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[The circus boy is riding in the]

  • Whitman Archive Title: [The circus boy is riding in the]
  • Whitman Archive ID: uva.00010
  • Repository: Catalog of the Walt Whitman Literary Manuscripts at the Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia
  • Box: 1
  • Folder: 49
  • Date: about 1855
  • Genre: poetry
  • Physical Description: 1 leaf, 10.5 x 14 cm, handwritten
  • View Images: 1 | 2
  • Content: The verso lines (beginning with the individually deleted line "O Walt Whitman, show us some pictures!" and continuing "America, always Pictorial!") represent a later draft of the beginning of the poem "Pictures" than the most complete extant version, which is contained in the pre-1855 "Pictures" notebook currently housed at Yale University. Critics have dated the lines to around 1880, when Whitman was working on a short version of "Pictures" both for magazine publication and for the 1881 edition of Leaves of Grass , where it was published as "My Picture-Gallery." But Whitman's early style of inscription in this draft, along with the line "It is round—it has room for America, north and south" and his use of his own name in the deleted first line, all suggest that Whitman may have inscribed this draft around the same time that he was working on the new 1856 "Poem of Salutations" (eventually "Salut au Monde!"). This draft also suggests that at one point he may have considered linking what would become "Poem of Salutations" and the formally and thematically similar "Pictures" more directly. The lines on the recto, divided by a horizontal line, refer to images of a circus boy on a fleet horse and of watching those on a shore disappear. The relationship between either of these lines and Whitman's published works is unclear.

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