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Review of Specimen Days and Collect

"Mr. Whitman's 'Specimen Days and Collect' is a book to be picked up at an odd moment and read in instalments, like the letters of a friend. It is as full of individuality as an egg is of albumen. It gives one insight into the mind of the poet. The 'Specimen Days' are of course extracts from diary memoranda. They are as odd as a Chinese picture; different from anything else in the literary line ever published. It is curious to wander back through the years with the 'Good Grey Poet' and read his thoughts, see with his eyes and be affected through his nerves and sensibilities. It is no small privilege. They are gathered together at hap-hazard, and that only adds to their nameless charm; nameless because so unexpected and that nothing quite meets their nomenclature.

The latter half of the volume is an olla podrida1 of notes, essays, lectures and memoranda with one or two poems. Here at last is a book by Walt Whitman, in whose pages no mawkish morality and squinting prudery can find a line to erase or change. It is as pure as the mountain wind and as free. It is not an easy book to characterize, but it is a book which every lover of our literature will prize not only as a curiosity but as full of things worth remembering."


1. Olla podrida means a diverse mixture of things or elements. [back]

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