In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: It were unworthy a live

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: Before or early in 1855

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00162

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

Editorial note: This is an early scrap of prose that may have contributed to the poem that eventually became "Song of Myself." The last part of the manuscript recalls what ultimately became section 32, in which Whitman describes wanting to "live awhile with animals" because "[t]hey do not sweat and whine about their condition, / They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins." These lines were present in the first version of the poem in 1855, so it seems likely that the manuscript dates to before or early in that year.

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

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It is ^wh were unworthy a live man to pray or complain, no matter what ^should happens.—Will he be a ^descend among those rhymsters and sexless priests, and of clean shaved virtue, whose vast virtues isare lathered and shaved three times a week,—to whine how and weep about sin and hell and—to call pronounce his race a sham or swindle—to squall out

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