Skip to main content

Frederick York Powell to Walt Whitman, 1 November 1884

 loc.03510.001_large.jpg Dear Sir,

I wish to thank you most heartily for your gift to me which I have just received from Mrs Wharton.1

I could not have received anything from America which I should prize as I do this Volume of the Leaves of Grass.

Since I first read your poems years ago now they have always had a great influence on my thoughts and wishes. I should have liked to  loc.03510.002_large.jpg write to you then, but I did not think I had a right to, and I wished to see you and talk to you, but I never had the opportunity. Your gift has given me at least the right to thank you now not only for it but for the great good I have got form your work. Every man I suppose worries out some idea of the right life for himself, but your books have helped me much in getting a truer view of things than I started with. I have found out the truth of your words too from my short  loc.03510.003_large.jpg experience of life in deed as well as in thought. You have many more worthy listeners but none more gratified than myself. Your Leaves of Grass I keep with my Shakespeare and my Bible and it is from these three that I have got more sympathy than from any other books.

I should like to tell you too that you have many more friends here than you can ever have heard of by letter or paper, men and women who have got a good hold of your poems and their pith.

If you should ever come to the Old  loc.03510.004_large.jpg Country how pleased we should be, I wish it may yet be possible for you to do so.

You will not I hope think that I wish to give you the trouble of sending or writing any answer to these few lines. I have not written for that at all, but simply because I wanted you to know that I am very grateful to you and that I am yours faithfully

FredkYork Powell

Frederick York Powell (1850–1904) was an English historian and professor at the University of Oxford.


  • 1. Possibly a reference to Edith Wharton (1862–1937), the famous novelist and admirer of Whitman. [back]
Back to top