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Rel ? outset

  • Whitman Archive Title: Rel ? outset
  • Whitman Archive ID: med.00776
  • Repository: Catalog of Unlocated Walt Whitman Manuscripts
  • Date: between 1855 and 1868
  • Genre: poetry, prose
  • Physical Description: number of leaves unknown, handwritten
  • View Images: currently unavailable
  • Content: A transcription of this manuscript appeared in Clifton Joseph Furness's Walt Whitman's Workshop: A Collection of Unpublished Manuscripts (Harvard University Press, 1928), 40. Its current location is unknown. The manuscript begins, "First I wish you to realize well that our boasted knowledege, precious and manifold as it is, sinks into niches and corners, before the infinite knowledge of the unknown," a statement reminiscent of the following line from "Poem of the Road" (1856): "All religion, all solid things, arts, governments—all that was or is apparent upon this globe or any globe, falls into niches and corners before the processions of souls along the grand roads of the universe." This poem was eventually retitled "Song of the Open Road." The last part of the manuscript describes, as a metaphor for human attempts to articulate "the spiritual world," a worm "on a twig reaching out in the immense vacancy time and again, trying point after point." This image is one Whitman developed in the poem "A Noiseless Patient Spider," first published in the October 1868 issue of The Broadway, A London Magazine as the third of four numbered poems grouped under the title "Whispers of Heavenly Death."

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