Selected Criticism

"Sketch, A" (1842)
Huang, Guiyou
Print source:
J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings, eds., Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998), reproduced by permission.

"A Sketch" was first published in the December issue of The New World, edited by Park Benjamin, but it has never been included in any editions of Whitman's poetry. In fact, the poem had not been known to exist until Jerome Loving discovered it in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University, and republished it in the Winter 1994 issue of the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review.

Loving offers compelling evidence that authenticates the authorship of "A Sketch" as Whitman's: it was signed "W.," and it resembles, in theme and metrics, Whitman's "Each Has His Grief" and "The Punishment of Pride"; its theme also echoes "Our Future Lot," published in Whitman's own The Long Islander in 1838. Loving further points out that it was perhaps Whitman's first "seashore poem," anticipating later great pieces such as "Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking," "As I Ebb'd with the Ocean of Life," and "Out of the Rolling Ocean the Crowd." The narrator of the poem is "ultimately concerned with the significance of love in the context of the unknown" (Loving 119), expressing the loneliness found in parts of "Song of Myself" and other major pieces.


Loving, Jerome. "A Newly Discovered Whitman Poem." Walt Whitman Quarterly Review 11 (1994): 117–122.


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.