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Walt Whitman to Richard Maurice Bucke, 24 July 1891


A shade of relief f'm the hot spell—now 10th day—& is telling on me—Things much the same—Lip2 for Aug: out—the birth-day rep't3 reads well—I don't get out doors at all—Phillips Brooks4 here yesterday—Am sitting here—

Walt Whitman  loc_jm.00292.jpg July 24

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 | care Mr Costelloe | 40 Grosvenor road | the Embankment | London England. It is postmarked: Camden, N.J. | Jul 24 | 6 PM | 91; Philadelphia, PA. | Jul 24 | 8 PM | Paid. [back]
  • 2. Lippincott's Monthly Magazine was a literary magazine published in Philadelphia from 1868 to 1915. Joseph Marshall Stoddart was the editor of the magazine from 1886 to 1894, and he frequently published material by and about Whitman. For more information on Whitman's numerous publications here, see Susan Belasco, "Lippincott's Magazine." [back]
  • 3. Horace Traubel's "Walt Whitman's Birthday, May 31, 1891," an account of Whitman's 72nd (and last) birthday, was published in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine in August 1891. The account was later published as "Round Table with Walt Whitman" in Traubel, Richard Maurice Bucke, and Thomas B. Harned, ed., In Re Walt Whitman (Philadelphia: David McKay, 1893), 297–328. [back]
  • 4. Phillips Brooks (1835–1893) was an Episcopal clergyman who served as the rector of Boston's Trinity Church and, for a short time, as the Bishop of Massachusetts. Brooks also wrote the lyrics for "O Little Town of Bethlehem." [back]
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