In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: The Play-Ground

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: About 1846

Whitman Archive ID: loc.00264

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: This manuscript is a draft of the early poem "The Play-Ground," nearly as it appeared in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on June 1, 1846 (during Whitman's editorship of the paper).

Related item: On the reverse of this leaf is a draft of prose fiction. See loc.07421.

Contributors to digital file: Caitlin Henry and Brett Barney

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The Play‑Ground.

When painfully athwart my brain

Dark thoughts come crowding on,

And, sick of worldly hollowness,

My heart feels sad and lone—


Then out upon the green I walk,

Just ere the close of day,

And swift I ween the sight I view

Clears all my gloom away.—


For there [are merry?] children, the village children come—

The cheeriest things on earth,

I see them play—I hear their tones

Of loud and reckless mirth.—


And many a clear and flute‑like laugh

Comes ^Flies ringing through the air;

And many a roguish flashing eye,

And rich red cheek are there.—


O, lovely, happy children!

I am with you in my soul:

I shout—I strike the ball with you—

With you I race and roll.—


Methinks, white‑winged angels,

Floating unseen the while,

Hover around this village green,

And pleasantly they smile.

O, angels! guard these children!

Keep grief and guilt away:

From worldly harm—from evil thoughts—

O shield them night and day!

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