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Walt Whitman to Peter Doyle, 27 June [1872]

 loc.01598.001.jpg Dear son,

I will write you just a line, to show you I am here away north, & alive & kicking. I delivered my poem here before the College yesterday. All went off very well.—(It is rather provoking—after feeling unusually well this whole summer,—since Sunday last I have been about half sick & am so yet, by spells.) I am to go to Vermont, for a couple of days, & then back to Brooklyn—Pete I received your letter, that you had been taken off—write to  loc.01598.002.jpgme Saturday 30th or Sunday—direct to usual address 107 Portland av. Brooklyn. I will send you the little book with my poem, (& others) when I get back to Brooklyn. Pete did my poem appear in the Washington papers—I suppose Thurs-day or Friday—Chronicle or Patriot?2—If so, send me one—(or one of each)

—It is a curious scene here, as I write, a beautiful old New England village, 150 years old, large houses & gardens, great elms, plenty of hills—every thing comfortable, but very Yankee—not an African to be seen all day—not a grain of dust—not a car to be seen or heard—green grass every where—no smell of coal tar—As I write a party are playing base ball on a large green in front of the house—the weather suits me first rate—cloudy but no rain.

Your loving Walt

Peter Doyle (1843–1907) was one of Walt Whitman's closest comrades and lovers, and their friendship spanned nearly thirty years. The two met in 1865 when the twenty-one-year-old Doyle was a conductor in the horsecar where the forty-five-year-old Whitman was a passenger. Despite his status as a veteran of the Confederate Army, Doyle's uneducated, youthful nature appealed to Whitman. Although Whitman's stroke in 1873 and subsequent move from Washington to Camden limited the time the two could spend together, their relationship rekindled in the mid-1880s after Doyle moved to Philadelphia and visited nearby Camden frequently. After Whitman's death, Doyle permitted Richard Maurice Bucke to publish the letters Whitman had sent him. For more on Doyle and his relationship with Whitman, see Martin G. Murray, "Doyle, Peter," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


  • 1. This letter is addressed: Peter Doyle, | conductor | Office | Wash. & Georgetown City RR. It is postmarked: Hanover N. H. | Jun | 27. [back]
  • 2. The poem did not appear in the Washington Daily Morning Chronicle or The Daily Patriot. The Washington Star, however, printed Whitman's laudatory version of his performance; see Emory Holloway, American Mercury, 18 (1929), 485. [back]
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