In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: An Ossianic Paragraph

Creators: Walt Whitman, Unknown

Date: After 1846

Whitman Archive ID: mid.00016

Source: Middlebury College Library, Special Collections. 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.

Editorial note: The clipping on this page is from Margaret Fuller's "Things and Thoughts in Europe," published in the New-York Daily Tribune on November 13, 1846.

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


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An Ossianic ¶: Margaret Fuller, benighted and alone on Ben Lomond.—

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For about two hours I saw the stars, and very cheery and companionable they looked; but then the mist fell, and I saw nothing more, except such apparitions as visited Ossian on the hill-side, when he went out by night and struck the bosky shield, and called to him the spirits of the heroes and the white-armed maids with their blue eyes of grief. To me, too, came those visionary shapes; floating slowly and gracefully, their white robes would unfurl from the great body of mist in which they had been engaged, and come upon me with a kiss pervasively cold as that of death. What they might have told me, who knows, if I had but resigned myself more passively to that cold, spirit-like breathing!


Ossian must not be despised—it means that kind of thought and character growing among a rude com-
bative ^illiterate people, heroic, dreamy, poetical, on mountains, not on rich lowlands, not with placid gods and temples, not with a cultivated benevolence, conscientiousness, agreeableness, or constructiveness.—

How misty, how windy, how full of diffused, only half-meaning words! —How curious a study!

☞—(Don't fall into the Ossianic, by any chance.)

? Can it be a descendant of the Biblical poetry? —Is it not Isaiah, Job, the Psalms, and so forth, transferred to the Scotch Highlands? (or to Ireland?)


? The tremendous figures and ideas of the Hebrew poems,— are they not original?—for they are certainly great—

(Yes they are original


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