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Walt Whitman to William D. O'Connor, [26 January 1885]

I am ab't as usual—All right, heart & spirits—I send Springfield Republican with piece, more because I want to send something than because of any moment in it2—Send on to Dr B[ucke]3 when you have read. I write a little—sort o' sundown sonnets4—have some nice visitors—Sometimes foreigners—two or three American girls now & then—great comfort to me5


William Douglas O'Connor (1832–1889) was the author of the grand and grandiloquent Whitman pamphlet The Good Gray Poet: A Vindication, published in 1866. For more on Whitman's relationship with O'Connor, see Deshae E. Lott, "O'Connor, William Douglas (1832–1889)," Walt Whitman: An Encyclopedia, ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings (New York: Garland Publishing, 1998).


  • 1. This letter is endorsed: Answ'd Feb 1, 1885 | Jan. 26 1885. It is addressed: Wm D O'Connor | Life Saving Service | Washington | D C. It is postmarked: Camden | Jan | (?) | 6 PM | 1885(?) | N.J.; Washington, Rec'd. | Jan | 27 | 730 AM | 1885 | (?). O'Connor dated this post card correctly. [back]
  • 2. The Springfield Republican reprinted on January 24, from the New York Mail and Express, a jocular account by Henry Peterson in which he took exception to Whitman's descriptions of animals. Peterson was a friend of O'Connor (see the letters from O'Connor to Whitman of June 15, 1883 and February 1, 1885). [back]
  • 3. Richard Maurice Bucke visited Whitman from December 2 to 5, and Burroughs joined them on December 4 (Whitman's Commonplace Book). [back]
  • 4. "Of That Blithe Throat of Thine" appeared in the January issue of Harper's Monthly. Whitman sent the poem to the magazine on October 17, 1884, and asked $30 (Whitman's Commonplace Book). Henry M. Alden, the editor, rejected "After the Supper and Talk" on January 13. "Washington's Monument, February, 1885" appeared as "Ah, Not This Granite, Dead and Cold" in the Philadelphia Press on February 22. "Death of General Grant," with the title "As One by One Withdraw the Lofty Actors," was sent on April 2 at the "request" of the editor of Harper's Weekly and was printed on May 16 (Whitman's Commonplace Book). It appeared as "Grant" in The Critic on August 15. [back]
  • 5. Whitman did not inform O'Connor of domestic details. On January 20 the Lays moved out of 328 Mickle Street, and on January 25 he began to have his breakfasts at the home of Mrs. Mary Davis at 412 West Street. For almost five weeks Whitman lived alone until Mrs. Davis became his housekeeper on February 24 (Whitman's Commonplace Book). [back]
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