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Walt Whitman to Richard Maurice Bucke, 9 April 1890

Still in the woods & badly but the breathing machinery working easier to-day wh' is a good point gain'd—Pass my hours half the time stretch'd out on the bed sometimes in a partial doze & half up in the chair & rather miserable—sweat easily—

God bless you all— Walt Whitman

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. This letter is addressed: Dr Bucke | Asylum | London | Ontario | Canada. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J. | Apr 10 | 6 AM | 90; N.Y. | 4-10-90 | 10 30 AM | (?). [back]
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