In Whitman's Hand

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About this Item

Title: No doubt the efflux

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: Before 1855

Whitman Archive ID: loc.00025

Source: Thoughts, ideas, and trial lines (3 vols.) |  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. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the notebooks, see our statement of editorial policy.

Editorial note: This notebook consists almost entirely of prose. However, the ideas and language developed throughout the notebook can be linked to a number of poems that appeared in Leaves of Grass, including "Song of Myself," "Great are the Myths," "Faces," and "The Sleepers," versions of which appeared in Leaves of Grass in 1855. Thus, this notebook was almost certainly written before that date. Content from the first several paragraphs of this notebook was also used slightly revised in "Song of the Open Road," first published in the 1856 edition of Leaves as "Poem of the Road."

Contributors to digital file: Eric Conrad, Kirsten Clawson, Nicole Gray, and Kenneth M. Price



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No doubt the efflux of the soul [is?] comes through beautiful ^gates of laws that we may at some future period ^perhaps a few score millions of years, we may understand better.—At present, its ^tide is what we folks call capricious, and cannot well be traced * ( ).—Why as I just catch a look ^in the railroad car at some workman's half turned face, do I love that being, woman? tThoughtless that she is neither young nor beautiful? fair featured complexioned?,—she [illegible] remains in my memory afterward for a year, and I calm myself to sleep at night by thinking of her.—Why are be there men I meet, and many others I know, that when while they are with me, the sunlight of Paradise


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warms expands my blood—that ^when if I walk with an arm of theirs around my neck, my soul leaps and laughs like a new-waked child—scoots and courses like a caressed an unleashed dog caressedthat when they leave me the pennants of my joy sink flat from the and lank in the deadest calm?—

Why, do I as I sit at my table in do flocks of thoughts, ideas, some twittering as wrens ^or chirping or robins pee [sweets?]? some soft as pigeons, some screaming as eagles sea-hawks, some shy and afar off as the wild brant, some            ^invariably why do these swarms beat their ^countless wings and clutch


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their feet upon me, as I sit in the adjoining room near by, to where my brother is practising [on?]at the piano?—There is a certain block between my house and the sSouth ferry, not especially different from other blocks ^[densely?] bordered by trees;: Why then do I never pass it there, without new and large and beautiful melodious thoughts thoughts descending upon me?—I think ^I guess ^they hang there, winter and summer, [ply?] the limbs of those trees and continually drop the [fruit?] upon if I travel that [block?] way. Some fisherman that alwaysstop to pass the time-O-day with give good morning to, and pass ^ten or twenty minutes as he draws his seine by the shore—^some carpenter working his rip saw through a plank— some driver, as I ride on top of the stage,—men rough, rough, not handsome, not accomplished—why do I know that the subtle chlo-

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roform of our spirits is affecting each other, and though we may never meet encounter not again, we know feel that we two have pass exchanged the ^right mysterious unspoken password ^ of the night, and have are thence free entrance comers to each the guarded tents of each others' love most interior love?

*(What is the cause meaning, any how, of my love ^ attachment adhesiveness for toward others?—What is the cause of theirs love toward for for me?)—(Am I loved by them boundlessly because my love for them is more boundless?—)


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^While the curtain is down at the opera ^while I swim in the bath while I wait for my friend at the corner, while I [illegible] swim in the bath, I behold ^and am beheld by people men and women; I speak little or nothing; I offer make no gifts to them; I do not ^so much as turn my neck or pat my boot in their behalf ^instep to gain [any?] [thing?] from them; of their [favor?]; we never met nor before,—never heard of or shall ^hear eachs other before each's names.—nor dates nor employments.—With all this, some god ^walks in noiseless and resistless, takes and takes their hearts out of their breasts, and gives them to me for ever.—Often I see it, and get catch the hint sign; and oftener, no doubt, it goes ^flies over by me over as unknown as my neighbor's dreams.—

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and bring her naked to his bed, that he they together may sleep, ^together with her—; and she shall come again whenever he will, and the taste shall always be sweeter and sweeter always)

President Lo ^Their Their Rules and their Pets! I see them lead him onward now.—I see the his large slow gait, his face ^illuminated and gay like the face of a happy young child.—I see him shooting the light of his soul


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Onward ^he moves ^with the gay procession, to the music of laughter and the [swing?] band of laughing pioneers and the ^wild trilling bugles of joy.—

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Onward he moves with the gay procession, and the laughing pioneers, and the wild-trilling bugles of joy

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The Poet

I think His sight is the sight of the ? (bird and his scent the instinct of the ? dog


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I think ten million supple-^fingered gods are perpetually employed hiding beauty in the world—hiding burying its every-where in every-thing—but and most of all where in spots that men and women do not think of it, and never look—as in death, and misery poverty and wickedness.—Cache [illegible] ^ after and cache —it is— again they all over the earth, and in the heavens above ^that swathe the earth and in the dept waters of the sea.—Thei They do their work jobs well; those supple-fingered gods. journeymen divine.

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But Only to from the poet do can they ^can hide nothing; ^and would not if they could.—hide.—
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Him they attend wait on night and day and show where they take uncover all, that he shall see the naked breast and the most private            of Delight.—
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I think reckon he is the really the god Boss of those gods; for they and the work they do is done for him, and all that they have concealed they have concealed for his sake sakeAhead ^ For Him they attend outdoors or indoors; to his perceptions they open all.—They ru run nimbly ahead as when he walks, and and to lift their cunning covers, and poi signify to him with pointed pointed stretched arms.—The The (They undress Delight

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What variety what richness in life:

But grea richer than life is spreads out what we call [Death?]

How supple is youth,

How muscular, how full of
love and grace and unspeak
able fascination

But old age may wear more
love and
graces and fascinations
a thousand fold.

How large and splendid is
the sunlit day

Till the night comes with
its mystery and darkness ^transparent darkness and mystery
and the stars,

And those tTouching the soul
closer than the grandest
day.

How magnificent are riches is wealth
that spread over one affording
gifts without stint from the

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ample hand, and superb
clothes and hospitality

But all riches are wealth is nothing to the
soul's, which are is candor
and life and all enfolding love,

Did not Jesus show that
what we call propeoverty
is great the greatest riches wealth?

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Why what is this curious little thing creature thing you pr you out hold before us?—We read in the advertisements of your new and edition of our the race, enlarged and improved. Do you call this such as this such an abject wretched thing creature as you have pictured here a man?—A mMan is the President of the earth. Why tThis is no man ^Man is [a?] master of the President of the ^ whole earth..—This is some ^the abject louse—some the milk-faced maggot

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What an abject            creature            would make a human being man.—Notice! what louse is this—you what crawling snivelling milk faced maggot,

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that falls lays ^flattens itself upon the ground, and asks leave to live, as of no not as of right of its own, but by special favor; snufflin snivelling how it is were righteously condemned, being of the vermin race, and is will crawl be only too thankful if it be let can, creep crawl escape to go to its hole under the dung, and escape dodge the stick or booted heel! and escape to its hole under the dung!

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I should think poorly of myself if I could should be even a few days with any community ^either of sane or insane people, and not make them convinced, whether they acknowledged it or not, with ^of my truth, my sympathy, and my dignity.—I should be assured certain enough that those attributes were not in me.—The Although it may balk and tremble a few moments on its balance? it is will surely signify


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No piety that macerates and flogs itself, and refuses women and laughter and a rich florid long, strong florid life, is equal begins to be piety in comparison with that which
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If your souls do not

The most accomplished lapidary cannot tell separate the real opal an ? and from their counterfeits in glass, as so unerringly as the soul can tell what is its truth and what is sham.—Yet in the superb ordinations, this clarifying and separating power ^in any thing like perfection is not arrived at in any thing like perfection, hastily.—Nature is not a young fellow *


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In the city when the streets have been long neglected, they heap up banks of mud in the shape of graves, and put boards at the head and feet, with very significant inscriptions.—


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Comparison between a sincere devotee of any time, and a fashionable preacher.—

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O yes the Fugitive Slave Law is obeyed northerly every day in the year—except three hundred and sixty-five


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All this Religion of the world -          - as it is let us not be too stern with it—it is the meagre grass thin and pale and yellow which shows the life of the soil; and

A bell-ringer went out ^at night to sound his alarm for a fire.—After two or three rings, the notes ceased, and when they went to see, the bell ringer was dead.—


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are ^be [cut away] ready.—[cut away] amplitude of her means, [illegible] time is inconceivably ample.—Therefore It is for sShe does not rush, and nor get in any tight spot that needs hard scratching


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Give ^me the commander who carries a thousand regiments in his breast ^both horses foot; and ^in his head whole packs of artillery, the swiftest and best disciplined in the world

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Comes some one to a man saying, your mother is famished, your brother is blue and dead with cold, and the man answers, I have [big?] meat, but it is inconvenient to go for it ^just now; and I have cloth but it is out of reach on a high shelf


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Inexplicably curious is the con what we call happiness.—I have felt the strange sweet mystery more for forty minutes cleaning ^and gresing my boots, than


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Has what I have said an            seized upon your soul and set its sign there

If not then I know there is no elementary vigor the in my words

If it have not, then I throw my words with among the ^other parings and crusts of the swill tub, and go home and bathe myself, and listen to music, and touch my lips to the flesh of sleeping children, and ^come and try again.


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The Poet

What you call your Religion, however warm it may paint it as with as much red as you can stick on—wrench the biggest words to to describe it—and then multiply many fold; yet it is ^yet too feeble feeble and cold babyish for the Poet.—He must will have something ^infinitely more alive and ample and strong and fiery and comprehensive.—

There is an ugliness undone and unspoken, worse than the any sins of ignorance or bad temper uncouth ways..—A man shall maliciously tell of some the chap ^at the table picking his teeth with the dinner fork, and show


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This hat ^This being a little hood and coat you have tunic tailored ^ too small for the soul is for some wilted sickly poor consumptive wasted child, and gaudy with spangles of tin.—you [bring?] your clothier's tapes and

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For thy soul, that is so large that ^whose far spreading the breasts shoulders burst the overcoat of the universe, as ^too insupportably inconceivably cramping pinching and scant and of no small account.—that who t takes the suns for its toys toys, and soon wants something better—they will you bring a piece tailor up the little hood and tunic tailored for ^sizable to some poor consumptive child, and made horribly gaudy with spangles of tin?


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an ill bred soul heart far worse than more dismal than any want of etiquette.


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SLooking to the outer scrofulous politics whose of Europe, and what comes thence, Men folks think it a dismal thing when the kings that some king or kings daughter, un unseated from their thrones and exiled, should pine and linger, and be starved of the grand pre-sustenance which honors and prerogatives of

But all


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Greatness is simply development


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Shall Does tThe clothier comes supercilious ^and swallow tailed and swallow-tailed, wh with ^and flirts his measuring tape, and shears for the ^my Soul whose —my Soul that, with far-stretching bulging shoulders bursting the overcoat of the universe heavens as insupportably pinching and scant—who takes fiery suns for toys, and soon wants some thing brighter;—and can will the swallow tailed gentlemen loud promising gentlemen duly send home to me nothing better than this ^little tunic for some poor consumptive child—this baby hood, with spangles of tin?


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I think ten million supple-fingered wristed gods are perpetually employed always hiding beauty in the world—burying it every where in every thing—and most of all in spots that men and women do not think of and never look—as Death and Poverty and Wickedness.—Cache! and Cache again! all over the earth, and in the heavens that swathe the earth, and in the waters of the sea.—They do their jobs well; those journeymen divine. Only from the Poet they can hide nothing and would not if they could.—I reckon he is Boss of those gods; and the work they do is done for him; and all they have concealed, they have concealed for his sake.—Him they attend indoors and outdoors.—They run ahead when he walks, and lift their cunning covers and signify him with pointed stretched arms.

Their President and their Pet! I see them lead him now.—I see his large, slow gait—his face illuminated like the face of an arm-bound child. Onward he moves with the gay procession, and the laughing pioneers, and the wild trilling bugles of joy.—

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