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The First Dandelion

per.00114.004per.00114.004_cropped [FOR THE NEW YORK HERALD.]

The First Dandelion.1

Simple and fresh and fair from winter's close 
As if no artifice of fashion, business, politics, 
  had ever been,
Forth from its sunny nook of shelter'd grass— 
  innocent, golden, calm as the dawn,
The spring's first dandelion shows its trustful 


1. Reprinted in the "Sands at Seventy" annex to Leaves of Grass (1888). [back]

2. Rather inconveniently for Whitman, "The First Dandelion," which hearkens the coming of spring, appeared in the Herald on 12 March 1888, just one day before a tremendous blizzard hit New York and the coast. The snow-bound took their ire out on Whitman in poems of their own: "The First Blizzard," signed "After Walt Whitman," appeared in the Herald on 14 March, and a second poem, "Served Him Right," was printed in the same column the next day. The Herald also reprinted responses from other newspapers about Whitman and the poem, including a note from the Buffalo Express on 18 March, which explained how New Yorkers passed their time during the blizzard: "by printing poems of Walt Whitman's on such seasonable themes as 'The First Dandelion.' We join Walt in admiration for dandelion salad." [back]

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