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John St. Loe Strachey to Walt Whitman, 12 July 1877

 loc_vm.00309_large.jpg Dear Mr Whitman

I send you here two stanzas written by me and addressed to you.1 I have taken this liberty at the suggestion of my uncle Mr Symonds,2 to whom I showed the verses, and by whom I was assured that my sending them would not be looked upon by you in the light of an impertinence. With the  loc_vm.00310_large.jpg exception of a single line they are just as I wrote them two years ago some few weeks after your book first fell into my hands Mr Symonds bids me tell you something of myself. I was born in the year 1860. I am second son of what is here called a "country-gentleman" I have never been to any of our great public schools, but have got the little I know of the classics under various  loc_vm.00311_large.jpgprivate tutors. I hope by next Christmass​ to have entered Balliol College Oxford. Owing to my want of a public-school training, I have not as yet been able to do much in the way of athletics I hope however when I get up to Oxford to do some rowing. With many hopes that you continue better in health

Believe me dear Mr Whitman Yours very truly St. Loe Strachey  loc_vm.00312_large.jpg


Thine is no carol of weak love or hate Thine is no song by listless idlers sung, No poor attempt to cheat us from our fate, No shallow words from the shallower fancies wrung; These are not thine, thy music pure is flung From out a heart that throbs, and pants, and aches With its great love, our suffering race among Thou com'st with thy great gift of song, that makes All things seem bright and clear, all lovelier vision wakes.


Though now the world is deaf, and will not hear Though now the foolish rail, and sneer at thee It matters not their frowns thou dost not fear; Thou know'st the day will come, the how will be When thou in love with him of Gallile, Shalt have thy place not yet the years must wane And thought from Superstition curse be free When this is ended thou with him shalt reign Strong in all hearts, as loved, and mighty brothers twain


  • 1. John St. Loe Strachey (1860–1927) was a British journalist, and for a time was the editor of The Spectator. He was the second son of Sir Edward Strachey and Mary Isabella Symonds, sister of John Addington Symonds. [back]
  • 2. See the letter from John Addington Symonds to Walt Whitman on July 12, 1877. Symonds (1840–1893), a prominent biographer, literary critic, and poet in Victorian England, was author of the seven-volume history Renaissance in Italy, as well as Walt Whitman—A Study (1893), and a translator of Michelangelo's sonnets. But in the smaller circles of the emerging upper-class English homosexual community, he was also well known as a writer of homoerotic poetry and a pioneer in the study of homosexuality, or sexual inversion as it was then known (Andrew Higgins, Symonds, John Addington [1840-1893]). [back]
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