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Walt Whitman to Ellen M. O'Connor, 15 May [1874]

Dear Nelly,

I have had a succession of bad spells, (& pretty close together) since I wrote the encouraging lines, some two or three weeks ago2—indeed for a month now, in addition to other troubles, a pronounced pain & distress in left side, growing intenser & quite extended—often coming on at night, waking me up, & keeping me from sleep all night afterward—But this morning as I write, (9 o'clock after breakfast—fish, Graham bread, tea, my appetite, though modified, by no means lost)—I feel quite peert, in good spirits, free from any marked distress—& if you were to come in this minute, (than which, dear Nelly, I can think of no blesseder God-send,) you would say I appear in face, flesh, color, expression, &c. just the same Walt as of yore—Will this good turn & let-up of today (yesterday morning at this time I felt like death—& thought of it—) be followed by other relapses? Probably—for so it has been now for nearly a year. And yet each time I cannot help fancying that now I am going to recuperate—

As I write, sitting here in the parlor alone by the window, it is very pleasant—soothing—it is a sweet balmy, not hot morning—my sister's sister,3 from Norwich, Conn.​ is here on a visit, with her little 8 months old babe-boy—She is walking in the other room, singing it to sleep, in her arms—she has a fine contralto voice, & is singing beautifully, unconsciously—it does me good too—



  • 1. This envelope is endorsed, "Ans'd." Its envelope bears the address, "Mrs. E. M. O'Connor | 1015 O street | near 11th N. W. | Washington, | D.C." It is postmarked: "Camden | May | 15 | N.J." [back]
  • 2. Actually Whitman was not "encouraging" in his May 1, 1874 letter to Ellen O'Connor. [back]
  • 3. Whitman refers here to a sister of George's wife Louisa. [back]
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