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Poem of Fables

  • Whitman Archive Title: Poem of Fables
  • Whitman Archive ID: uva.00103
  • Repository ID: #3829-i
  • 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: 76
  • Date: 1850s
  • Genre: poetry
  • Physical Description: 1 leaf, 20 x 12 cm, handwritten
  • View Images: 1 | 2
  • Content: Two sets of deleted verses constitute adaptations of lines from Whitman's pre-1855 unpublished notebook "Pictures" "Now this is the fable of the mirror" and "And Now this is the fable of a beautiful statue." Two other deleted potential fables ideas also appear: "The trained runner" and "The five old men." At the foot of the leaf appears the note "last piece (still another Death Song— Death Song with prophecies." All of the sections are demarcated with horizontal lines. Based on Whitman's use of the tax blank, the manuscript appears to be a set of notes he made between 1857 and 1859 while preparing the 1860 edition of Leaves of Grass . The "Poem of Fables" as such never materialized, but a poem simply titled "Fables" was incorporated into the second section of the poem "Passage to India", first published in 1871. Whitman's "Pictures" were not published in their entirety until 1925. Whitman uses the phrase "well-train'd runner" in "The Runner", a poem which first appeared in Leaves of Grass in 1867.

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