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Richard Maurice Bucke to Walt Whitman, 10 December 1882

Dear Walt

I have been through "Specimen Days and Collect" pretty thoroughly,1 it is well printed and I find remarkably few corrections of any kind required—I enclose a list of what I have found. This makes about six times that I have read "Democratic Vistas" it is a wonderfull piece of writing, as fine in some respects as any thing in L. of G. but of course has not the life, fire, inspiration (or whatever you may call it) of such poems as "Song of Myself" "A Song of the Open Road" and a good many others, however I now take back entirely what I once said to you about "Democratic Vistas" to the effect that some other man might have written it. At the present moment I do not believe any other man who ever lived might or could have written it any more than any other man could have written "Calamus"—I go to Toronto tomorrow on some government business, shall be gone a few days, I want to hear from you, how you keep, when you are coming here &c &c

I am with much love Affectionately yours R M Bucke


  • 1. 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). [back]
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