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Helen A. Horner to Walt Whitman, 8 February 1870

 loc.01724.001_large.jpg "Walt Whitman"

O! Beloved Soul, so great! so beautiful! so noble, so grand! A God!

"O! Take my hand Walt Whitman" "Lift me close to your face Till I whisper" "What you are holding is in reality "no letter" nor part" of a letter.

It is a girl "flushed and full-blooded" It is I." "Here take from my lips this kiss"

"I give it especially to you. A kiss from the lips of one born beneath a tropical sun a daughter of the  loc.01724.002_large.jpg Crescent City. A kiss warm, and glowing from the lips of she, bred in the far West, and nurtured midst the Sierra Nevadas. By your "Leaves of Grass" I have been ravished— By all that you have written I have been won— Won by you Love! Won by your fine broad face, and large eyes. Won by your warm heart and big soul Won!—so that I dream of you all night, and Think of you all day.

I am "pensive and silent" "What do I seek?" "What do I need?" I "seek" your love, I "need" your love  loc.01724.003_large.jpg You have written "To drive free! to love free! to dash reckless and dangerous!"

Am I not so doing in writing this letter? Am I not "leaping to the heavens of love, you have indicated to me?"

Am I not mad?

Verily I am but echoing you.

I am a child, "a romping rollicking girl" they tell me.

I am more, "They" know it not—I am a flame. I am the "Promethean" fire I am Vesuvius!

I am Love!

The world knows me— somewhat—I stand before it, frigidly, stolidly—


I declaim!

Cooly, composedly, whilst the hot lava inwardly boiling, rages through my breast.

You are my child—Lord & Ideal. Of you I have been dreaming for nine years,—whilst cloistered within high Convent walls. Having found you I hasten to make myself known to you.

Do you rebuke me? If so, you are not the "Leaves of Grass" Would you know me? Answer this!

Some day I may hasten to greet you  loc.01724.005_large.jpg Would you know me? I am a bundle of imperfections.

I love!

Does love screen all defects?

I pray so!

Would you know me? The world calls me handsome. I have many lovers—that is, I am loved. I wish they could see my Soul. Would they deem it lovely.

I do not bother much about the exterior.

I seek to cultivate and make beautiful the inner being.

Towards this striving you have helped me.



Would you know me? Beloved Soul! I am not worth the knowing— Save as one of humanity Save as one of the "Miserables" Save as one of the oppressed and despised sex. I am worth the knowing Beloved Soul! For I am Love! I am Sappho! I am Heloise! Who has loved deeply I shall love deeper— Who has loved "Walt Whitman"? more than all their flames put to-gether, mine shall rage fiercer, and with  loc.01724.007_large.jpg an intenser warmth.

Would you know me? Then love me. Would you know me? Beloved Soul! Then hasten speedily to respond to this.

On thy honor Walt Whitman keep this to thyself. Mind you! it was all "whispered." Pardon me, I am yet timid, fearfully cautious (subject) "given to fears" Hither! A deep, long, long kiss, Good-bye Good-bye Good bye—

 loc.01724.008_large.jpg address to Miss Helen A. Horner Station G. G. New York City  loc.01724.009_large.jpg Helen A. Horner  loc_tb.00384.jpg

As yet we have no information about this correspondent.


  • 1. This letter is addressed: Walt Whitman (Poet) | Washington | State Department | D.C. | private. It is postmarked: New York | Feb [illegible] | Carrier | Feb | 21 | 7 PM. [back]
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