In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: Sweet flag

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: Between 1850 and 1855

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00883

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. The manuscript, filled with suggestive words and phrases, may have contributed to the first and fourth poems in the volume, eventually titled "Song of Myself" and "The Sleepers," respectively.

Related item: On the back of this manuscript is a poetry draft that includes several lines that would appear in the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass. See duk.00001.

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

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Sweet flag
Sweet fern
illuminated face
and melons with
bulbs swee grateful
to the hand

I am a look
in a trance

something wild and
—half savage


common things


The sSweet [Trickling?] Trickling sSap ^that trickles drops flows
from the end of the
[poli?] little
manly maple
tooth of delight


spendt spend

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bulbous bulbous

Living bulbs, melons with polished
rinds the hand soothinghe that
the hand to touch
smooth to the press reached

Bulbs of life-lilies, polished melons,
[reach?] flavored for the gentlest mildest hand that
shall reach,

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