In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: Give us men

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: Before or early in 1855

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00877

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 manuscript is an adaptation of notes Whitman took about Egypt, almost certainly based on his reading of Sir John Gardner Wilkinson's Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians, 3 vols. (London: John Murray, 1837). Related information about Sesostris appears on page 29 of the first volume in Wilkinson's collection, though Whitman may have been reading a different edition. Whitman used the information in his article "One of the Lessons Bordering Broadway: The Egyptian Museum," published in Life Illustrated on December 8, 1855. Similar descriptions of Sesostris appear in several of Whitman's other notes and manuscripts, including "Immortality was realized" and "Abraham's visit to Egypt," two sets of manuscript notes about Egypt that Edward Grier dates to between 1855 and 1860 (Notebooks and Unpublished Prose Manuscripts [New York: New York University Press, 1984], 5:1922; 6:2022); the notebook "women;" and the poetic rendition "Advance shapes like his shape." The manuscript is pasted to a larger document along with another scrap, the reverse of which features prose notes that relate to what became section 2 of "I Sing the Body Electric," first published as the fifth poem in the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass. Both manuscripts were probably written shortly before or early in 1855, though the notes on the backing sheet to which they have been pasted may have been written at a later date.

Related items: This manuscript scrap and the other scrap pasted to the larger backing sheet alongside it originally formed part of a larger notebook. We have made composite images that show the continuation of the text on both paste-ons with text on the notebook leaves from which they were cut, and the manuscripts have been transcribed in separate files. See duk.00066, duk.00878, and loc.05589.

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

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[cut away] Give us men, [fellows?] tall as ^the [illegible] Egyptian Sesostris who who was 6 ft 10 inches high, and nobly [s]haped and nimble and conquered all Asia and part [o]f Europe in nine years, [a]nd wherever he went [e]rected monuments to tell how he found the people.—If they were [illegible]^repulsive [a]nd brave he inscribed these monuments [illegible]

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