In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: If I should need to name, O Western World!

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: October 25, 1884

Whitman Archive ID: loc.00203

Source: The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1839–1919, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 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: The manuscript is dated October 25, 1884. Whitman published "If I Should Need to Name, O Western World" in the Philadelphia Press on October 26, 1884. The poem's title was revised to "Election Day, November, 1884" when it was included in November Boughs (1888). Accompanying this manuscript is a small scrap of paper, presented here as a third leaf, no doubt intended for the Philadelphia Press, with a note to the printer. At one point this leaf was probably glued to the first leaf and constituted the first part of the note in red pencil at the top of leaf 1 recto.

Contributors to digital file: Heather Morton, Kevin McMullen, Nick Krauter, Alice Rutkowski, Nicole Gray, Andrew Jewell, Kenneth Price, and Brett Barney

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If I should need to name, O Western World!

Presidential canvass and pending Election, 1884.

If I should need to name, O Western World!
your powerfulest scene to-day,

'T would not be you, Niagara—nor you, ye
limitless prairies—nor your huge
rifts of cañons, Colorado,

Nor you, Yosemite, with all your spasmic
geyser‑loops ascending to the skies, ap-
pearing and disappearing,

Nor Oregon's white cones—nor Huron's belt
of mighty lakes—nor Mississippi's stream:

This seething hemisphere's, ^humanity, as now, I'd name—
the still small voice preparing—
America's choosing day,

(The heart of it not in the chosen—the act
itself the main, the great quad[illegible] quadrennial

The stretch of nNorth and sSouth arouse'd—
sea‑board and inland—Texas to Maine,

The Prairie States, Vermont, Virginia, Cali-

The final ballot‑shower from eEast to wWest—
the paradox and conflict,

The countless snow‑flakes falling—(a swordless

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Yet more than all Rome's wars of old,
or modern Napoleon's;)

Or good or ill ^humanity——welcoming the darker odds,
the dross, the scene's debris:

Foams and ferments the wine? it is serves to puri-
fy—while the heart pants, life glows;

These stormy gusts and winds waft precious

Swell'd Washington's, Jefferson's, Lincoln's sails.

Walt Whitman

Camden, N.J., Oct. 25, 1884.

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to go in Sunday's paper Oct 26

put in type & send me a proof, by mail—direct 328 Mickle Street Camden—(send proofs by Wednesday 22 if convenient) [I will return immediately?]

[cut away] bearer one proof for me


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Mr Curtz
Federal street
opp. post office

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