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Walt Whitman to Aleck, 13 May [1885]

 loc_vm.01684_large.jpg (1885)

Aleck dear boy I cannot find "Locusts & Wild Honey" this moment—but let me lend you another of John Burroughs's1 books—(thought by some to be his best.)—"Birds and Poets"—hope it will please you & your mother and sister.

Your friend W W

Aleck boy here is a copy slip of my little new poem just out in Harpers' Weekly of May 16.2


As yet we have no information about this correspondent.


  • 1. The naturalist John Burroughs (1837–1921) met Whitman on the streets of Washington, D.C., in 1864. After returning to Brooklyn in 1864, Whitman commenced what was to become a decades-long correspondence with Burroughs. Burroughs was magnetically drawn to Whitman. However, the correspondence between the two men is, as Burroughs acknowledged, curiously "matter-of-fact." Burroughs would write several books involving or devoted to Whitman's work: Notes on Walt Whitman, as Poet and Person (1867), Birds and Poets (1877), Whitman, A Study (1896), and Accepting the Universe (1924). For more on Whitman's relationship with Burroughs, see Carmine Sarracino, "Burroughs, John [1837–1921] and Ursula [1836–1917]," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998). [back]
  • 2. Whitman's poem "As One by One Withdraw the Lofty Actors" (later "Death of General Grant") appeared in Harper's Weekly on May 16. [back]
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