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Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, 31 December 1881

 loc_es.00040.jpg My dear Walt

Just a line to tell you that we have another fine boy born about an hour ago2—both mother and child are well

Your friend R M Bucke  loc_es.00039.jpg

Richard Maurice Bucke (1837–1902) was a Canadian physician and psychiatrist who grew close to Whitman after reading Leaves of Grass in 1867 (and later memorizing it) and meeting the poet in Camden a decade later. Even before meeting Whitman, Bucke claimed in 1872 that a reading of Leaves of Grass led him to experience "cosmic consciousness" and an overwhelming sense of epiphany. Bucke became the poet's first biographer with Walt Whitman (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1883), and he later served as one of his medical advisors and literary executors. For more on the relationship of Bucke and Whitman, see Howard Nelson, "Bucke, Richard Maurice," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


  • 1. There is a vertical line drawn across Bucke's letter, and on the back Whitman drafted part of a piece titled "An Hour at Kenosha Summit," which first appeared in Specimen Days and Collect as "An Hour on Kenosha Summit" (1882–83). [back]
  • 2. Robert Walpole was the last of Bucke's eight children. [back]
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