In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: [Fa]bles, traditions

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: Between 1850 and 1855

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00261

Source: Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. Transcribed from digital images of the original item. 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. The ideas and language relate to the first poem in that edition, eventually titled "Song of Myself." This connection is reinforced by the supplied first line, added to a transcription of the manuscript that appears in Notes and Fragments, ed. Richard Maurice Bucke (London, Ontario: A. Talbot & Co., printers, 1899): "foot to fee lawyers for his brother and sit by him while he was tried for forgery" (47). This line, which matches a line in the 1855 version of "Song of Myself," is not currently written on the manuscript. In language, ideas, and structure, the last few lines of this manuscript also resemble lines 39–43 in the untitled fourteenth poem of the "Debris" cluster of the 1860–1861 edition of Leaves of Grass. The manuscript is also similar to other early manuscripts that relate to these poems and to the second poem in the 1855 edition of Leaves, eventually titled "A Song for Occupations" (see "Priests," "Do I not prove myself," and "I know as well as").

Related item: On the back of this manuscript is a prose draft. See duk.00800.

Contributors to digital file: Caitlin Henry, Nicole Gray, Kenneth M. Price, Andrew Jewell, and Amy Hezel

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[foot to fee lawyers for his brother and sit by him while he was tried for forgery]

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[Fa?]bles, traditions, and books formulas are not animate things;

Brick and mortar do not procreate like men;

[cut away] all of them and all existing creeds grows not so much of God as I grow in my moustache,

And I am myself waiting my time to be a God;

And I think I [h?] shall ^do as much good and be as pure and prodigious, and do
as much good
as any;

And when my do, I am, do you suppose it will please me
to receive puffs from pulpits or print?

IYou cannot go with ^ go with your testaments among ten men without
wrangling and unbelief

Go, with your logic and testaments among ten men

Five will be silent and doubt

Your Testaments Doctrine are is received gets with empty belief consent or
mocking politeness

It wrangles wriggles through the world mankind and hides under
helmets and it is not beloved never loved or believed.—

My ^The throat is not safe that speaks these it aloud.—

Yet I can take

I will take a sprig from of parsley and a budding rose
and go through the whole earth;

I know I shall You shall see I will not find one heretic to against them.—

Can you say as much of ^all the lore of the priesthood? your hieratic lore?

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