In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: poet of Materialism

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: 1855 or earlier

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00104

Source: Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of manuscripts, see our statement of editorial policy.

Editorial note: This manuscript is written on a scrap of wallpaper. Although it is cast in prose, this may be an early draft of a group of lines, expressing similar thoughts, in "Great Are the Myths," which was first published as the final, untitled, poem of the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass. It also bears some resemblance to lines that appeared in the first poem in that edition, eventually titled "Song of Myself." Edward Grier includes an additional line at the end of the manuscript, taken from a transcription in Richard Maurice Bucke's Notes and Fragments (1899): "That the Egyptian idea of the return of the soul after a certain period of time involved a beautiful [illegible] nature [illegible] mystery [illegible]" (Notebooks and Unpublished Prose Manuscripts, ed. Edward Grier [New York, New York University Press, 1984], 1:198). Grier speculates that the end of the manuscript with the additional line may have been clipped off at some point. Based on the handwriting and "references to Egyptology," he dates the manuscript 1855 or earlier.

Contributors to digital file: Brett Barney, Kirsten Clawson, Nicole Gray, Kevin McMullen, and Kenneth M. Price

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[illegible] poet of Materialism—(put this section forward [illegible] [in Reality?] and demonstration [with?] the opening.)

[illegible]—that this earth is under a constant and [process?] of amelioration—as it always has been—that it, in some manner not perhaps demonstratable in astronomy, expands outward and outward in a larger and larger orbit—that our immortality is located here upon earth—that we are immortal—that the processes of the refinement and perfection of the earth are in steps, [It?]the least part of which involves trillions of years—that in due time the earth ^beautiful as it is now, and will be as much beyond ^proportionately different from what it is now, as wh it now is proportionately different from what it was in its earlier gaseous or marine period, uncounted cycles before man and woman grew.—That we ^also shall be here proportionately different from now, and beautiful [yet?]

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