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Walt Whitman to John Burroughs, 23 June 1885

Just recd this | Looks as if W. was | not going to move. I | shall try him again by & by, | J. B.1 Dear John Burroughs

Yours just received (with the 10—many thanks—)—the kind invitation reiterated2—&c—I am in pretty fair condition generally, but unable to walk or get around, except very small stretches, & with effort—somehow feel averse to leaving this shanty of mine—where I am probably getting along better than you think—

Mrs Gilchrist's essay has appeared in the To-Day—probably she will send it to you—if not, I will send you mine—It is a noble paper—I have a little poem to appear in the Outing, perhaps in the forthcoming number3—Mary Smith & all the family (our Germantown friends) start for Europe to-morrow to be gone over a year.

As I write it is a delightful day—temperature perfect—I take the car to the ferry, & get out on the river every pleasant day.

Walt Whitman

The naturalist John Burroughs (1837–1921) met Whitman on the streets of Washington, D.C., in 1864. After returning to Brooklyn in 1864, Whitman commenced what was to become a decades-long correspondence with Burroughs. Burroughs was magnetically drawn to Whitman. However, the correspondence between the two men is, as Burroughs acknowledged, curiously "matter-of-fact." Burroughs would write several books involving or devoted to Whitman's work: Notes on Walt Whitman, as Poet and Person (1867), Birds and Poets (1877), Whitman, A Study (1896), and Accepting the Universe (1924). For more on Whitman's relationship with Burroughs, see Carmine Sarracino, "Burroughs, John [1837–1921] and Ursula [1836–1917]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


  • 1. This note is on the top of the letter and is in Burroughs's handwriting. [back]
  • 2. Burroughs invited Whitman to visit him at West Park, NY, on May 18. The letter reiterating the invitation is seemingly lost. [back]
  • 3. "The Voice of the Rain." [back]
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