In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: Light and air

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: Between 1850 and 1855

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00260

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: Whitman probably drafted this manuscript in the early 1850s as he was composing the first (1855) edition of Leaves of Grass. Language from the manuscript appears in the first poem of that edition, eventually titled "Song of Myself." The phrase "light and air" also appears in the fourth poem of that edition, eventually titled "The Sleepers." Another line, "Under this rank coverlid stretch the corpses of young men," was added to a transcription of the manuscript that appears in Notes and Fragments, ed. Richard Maurice Bucke (London, Ontario: A. Talbot & Co., printers, 1899), 16. The line is not currently written on the manuscript.

Contributors to digital file: Caitlin Henry, Nicole Gray, Kenneth M. Price, Farrah Lehman, Robert LaCosse, and Brandon James O'Neil

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The mighty magic of lLight and air!

Nothing ugly is ^can be disgorged— brought ^ Nothing corrupt or dead set before them,

But it shall surely becomes is translated or enclothed

Into supple youth, or dr a dress of surpassing living richness
spring gushing out from under the roots of an old tree

barn‑yard, pond, yellow gjagged bank with white pebbelestones
timothy, sassafras, grasshopper, pismire, rail‑fence

rye, oats, cucumbers, musk‑melons, pumpkin‑vine,

long string of running blackberry—

regular ^sound of the cow crunching, crunching the grass—

the path ^worn in the grass—katy‑did, locust, tree‑toad,


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