Skip to main content

A Poet's Western Visit


A Poet's Western Visit.

Walt Whitman is still in St. Louis, Missouri, after spending the last three months among the Rocky Mountains and the great plains of Kansas and Colorado. After returning to the Atlantic States, he intends traveling and lecturing at intervals, as his strength permits, being yet a half paralytic. Healthy to perfection for over forty years, he commenced in 1862, as many of our readers know, those practical missionary labors in the war hospitals and in front, and continued them on to 1866, in the thickest of that time and amid all its turmoils and suspense, night and day with his own hands nursing alike both union and rebel soldiers whenever they fell in his way.

The poet is now in his 61st year. Though crippled and paralyzed his spirits are unbroken, and he looks in good flesh, living largely in the open air, and occasionally traveling. He was in New York and on Long Island all the early summer. He continues to write at times. He has quite ready for publication a little prose book, characteristic notes of outdoor observations, especially of the woods, fields, and seaside, interspersed with reminiscences and criticism, and including this late Rocky Mountain and prairie jaunt, all told in his own way, by impromptu memoranda of the spot and time. His permanent residence is in Camden, New Jersey. He publishes and sells his books himself. He is understood as desiring engagements to lecture and read his poems the coming winter. He returns east this month, after a western trip to and fro of 5,000 miles.

Mr. Whitman says no one can begin to know what America is, or what it is destined to be in the near future, without exploring and living awhile in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado. He is in love with the last three especially. But all these vast prairie States, to and including Colorado, are laid out for the home of humanity, on the largest democratic scale. Wondrous rivers, railroads everywhere, plenty of wood, interminable and fertile meadows, wheat, fruit, exhaustless gold and silver, coal and iron, indeed every mineral, every agricultural product, absolutely without limit, and every manufacture known. Then such a prolific region, everywhere swarms of vigorous children. It is already the hospitable resort of the globe. But the babe is born, the poet prophesies, that will see this area the home of a hundred millions of human beings, and the real and ideal America of the future.

Back to top