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Walt Whitman to Richard Maurice Bucke, 26 February 1891


Don't like that portrait in the Illustrated paper some months ago—(for all its fine work & splendid technical handling.) It gives me a foxy, professional look, both distasteful.1 I send you three pictures from life—all & each satisfactory.

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. Perhaps Whitman is referring to Munyon's Illustrated World. [back]
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