In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: Lofty sirs

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: Between 1840 and 1855

Whitman Archive ID: loc.00387

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: Edward Grier concludes that this manuscript was likely written before 1855 because of its similarity to several of the notebooks that Whitman wrote from that period (Notebooks and Unpublished Prose Manuscripts [New York: New York University Press, 1984], 6:2110). Ideas in this manuscript are similar to ideas in the first poem in the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass, eventually titled "Song of Myself," and lines and phrases from the manuscript appear in another manuscript that may have contributed to the poem eventually titled "Song of Myself": see "I know many beautiful things." The tone of the statements is also consistent with Whitman's early journalistic and editorial persona.

Contributors to digital file: Jeannette Schollaert, Kevin McMullen, Nicole Gray, Kenneth M. Price, and Brett Barney

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Lofty sirs! you are very select and very [or?][cut away] and will have reserved seats in the ninetieth heaven no doubt, [a?] and move among ^recognize only the best dressed and most polite angels, well dressed, [illegible] and with real spirits and whose names are on silver door plates,—and folding sliding doors between gas at night in the parlors.—(As for me I am a born loafer.— democrat.—I assume this day, the whole debt of all I take my place by right among the sudorous or sweaty men classes, who feel know not whether among the boys men in their shirt sleeves,—the sunburnt, the unshaved, the huge paws.—) Ay dost th You You are proud of your books, your style, your bland and speech and possessed ease in society.—You put your ^scorch with words of pert scorn upon all intruders the and all vagaries of reformers and innovaters.—How those niggers smell! How dare that pPaddy ride in the same omnibus with me?—What are we coming to, that an ostler driver or the common dock wo workman of a scow, is a handsomer man with be has better finer health and cleaner shaped limbs than I, who do business in my own office or store?—And these radicals and wild ^new fangled new crazy loafers with their 'ologies and their 'isms—who can tell what the poor devils mean? Likely they do not know themselves!—

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