Selected Criticism

"Hast Never Come to Thee an Hour" (1881)
Knapp, Ronald W.
Print source:
J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings, eds., Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998), reproduced by permission.

"Hast Never Come to Thee an Hour" is one of the little, and little-known, poems written in the twilight time of Whitman's poetic career. The poem is located in the miscellaneous collection of poems called "By the Roadside," which Gay Wilson Allen describes as "merely samples of experiences and poetic inspirations along Whitman's highway of life" (150). "Hast Never," which is phrased in form of a question, speaks of a moment of inspiration, a "sudden gleam divine," which makes all of the "business aims" of life—"books, politics, art, amours"—like "bubbles" which, when burst, reveal that they consist of nothing that is really important. The pursuit of fame and fortune, Whitman is suggesting, at the twilight of his own career, results in "utter nothingness."


Allen, Gay Wilson. The New Walt Whitman Handbook. 1975. New York: New York UP, 1986.


Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Matt Cohen, Ed Folsom, & Kenneth M. Price, editors.