In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: Anacreon's Midnight Visitor

Creators: Walt Whitman, Horace Traubel, Anacreon

Date: Undated

Whitman Archive ID: loc.03442

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Transcribed from digital images of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the marginalia and annotations, see our statement of editorial policy.

Notes written on manuscript: On surface 2, in the hand of Horace Traubel: "Given to me by Walt Whitman & given by me to Mildred & Frank Bain in Montreal: 1910 Horace Traubel"

Contributors to digital file: Lauren Grewe, Ty Alyea, Nicole Gray, and Matt Cohen

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Anacreon's Midnight Visitor

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Ah! aim'd at me—like flash of flame

Right to my very soul it came.

"Thanks—and farewell," I hear him say,

As, with arch laugh, he soars away;

"The glow thou gav'st me, back I send,

Thy books, philosophy to end,

To warm thy life—to break the spell,

This, this thou need'st—Thanks, and farewell!"

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Tis noon of night when round the pole

The sullen Bear is seen to roll,

And mortals wearied with the day,

Are slumbering all their cares away.

An infant at that dreary hour,

Comes weeping to my silent bower,

And wakes me with a piteous prayer,

To shield him from the chill, wet air.

"And who art thou?" I, starting, cry,

That mak'st my blissful dreams to fly?"

"O gentle sir, a lonely child,"

The young one says, "I walk the wild,

^Soak'd Numb with the rain, while and not a ray,

T'Illumes the dark, the unknown way."

I hear the baby's tale of way, woe

As sharp the bitter night‑winds blow,

And eager to relieve his fate,

Trimming my lamp, I ope the gate.

[illegible] is Love, the [illegible]ttl[illegible] mystic sprite!

His pinions sparkle through the night.

I know him by his bow and dart;

(I know him by my fluttering heart:)

I take him in—I quickly raise

The smouldering embers' cheery blaze,

Press from his dank and clotted hair

The crystals of the freezing air,

And to my inner body, hold

his little fingers stiff and cold.

Till but awhile rosy and warm,

Supple and soft, leaving my arm,

"I pr pray thee," says the cunning child

(My bosom trembled as he smiled,)

I pray thee let me try my bow,

For through the rain I've wandered so,

That much I fear the pouring shower,

Has injured its elastic power."

I gave assent—the bow he drew,

Swift from the [illegible] the arrow flew.

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