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Rudolf Schmidt to Walt Whitman, 28 July 1874

 loc.01912.001.jpg Dear Walt Whitman,

I write to you these lines from old Norway. I am dwelling here in Gausdal in one of these ancient farms, whose names are perhaps thousand years old. I am walking among these heights—when the great mountain blocks are scattered over the scanty earth and laying on the same place as when for 5-6 hundred years ago the fierce chiefs met with their yeomen and retainers in  loc.01912.002.jpg bloody battles. At present all is very peaceful. The red blood-hours are spread over the whole valley, and good roads have been cut among the dark firs and pines. The river is running through the bottom as a smiling child. Sometimes it is white and reeking with foam as an injured ghost and for two weeks ago it took ago a new bridge as easily as I am flowing a feather away with the breath of my mouth.

The people is good natured, vigorous and kind hearted. The  loc.01912.003.jpg peasants are still here saying, "Thou" to the stranger. A great deal of Englishmen and some Americans are travelling here in Norway.

The editor of "Aftenbladet"1 in Christiania told me, that he has forwarded one copy of Elsters2 criticism to you. I sent another fra​ Copenhagen.

I have thought, that it could amaze you to receive some lines from this old proud mountain-country. Don't forget to let me know, if they have duely​ reached you.

—Rudolf Schmidt  loc.01912.004.jpg

The Danish writer Peter Carl Rudolf Schmidt (1836–1899) was the editor of the idealist journal For Idé og Virkelighed ("For Idea and Reality") and had translated Whitman's Democratic Vistas into Danish in 1874.


  • 1. Aftenbladet was a daily Norwegian newspaper. Its final issue was published in 1881. [back]
  • 2. Kristian Elster (1841–1881) was a Norwegian novelist whose work focused on cultural conflict, as in his 1872 pamphlet, "On the contrast between the western and the eastern parts of Norway." According to Carl Roos, Elster was a friend of Björnstjerne Björnson (1832–1910), Norwegian poet, dramatist, and novelist; see Orbis Litterarum, 7 (1949), 51n. [back]
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