In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: human feet, awaits us

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: Before or early in 1855

Whitman Archive ID: loc.05625

Source: The Thomas Biggs Harned Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, 1842–1937, 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 content of this manuscript, in which Whitman writes that true knowledge and experience do not come from books, is similar to material found in Whitman's early notebooks and in the first edition of Leaves of Grass. Based on this and the handwriting, Edward Grier dates this manuscript to before or early in 1855 (Notebooks and Unpublished Prose Manuscripts [New York: New York University Press, 1984], 1:188).

Contributors to digital file: Kirsten Clawson, Janel Cayer, Kevin McMullen, Nicole Gray, and Kenneth M. Price

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[cut away] human feet, awaits you us perhaps [at?] the next corner, or through the range of an ordinary boarding house.—

Noble as books and the writers of books are—the leaven of the true bread of the world life, the ladder stairs of humanity, the cables that holds to our us, as to a shore, the freighted [ciphers?] supply ship of the past—there is something better than any and all books, and that is the real stuff whereof they are the artificial transcript.—and portraiture.—

There are plenty who do not own books, but where is the man who every all maen and womaen posesses the in fee simple the vast curbless and bottomless mine itself, of which whence books are but the dust and of scraps.—

I remember at an evening party once at an up-town palace, we were with great [caution?]. You may not ^ be on visiting towns terms with the grand family in the up-town palace who paid a great sum for I you have not the great pictures and sculpture of the world—the [memoirs?] of art; You I have not yet never seen the fragment of the true cross in Rome, or ^the Last Judgment, [that?] that magnolia of art ^the Last Judgment; the Last Judgment; but where, under the sun by day or the stars by night, what grade of latitude and longitude, will you need I on the sea or on the land, be without the autograph of God?—What black and stupid hour is that, while the unspeakable sSomething in man's eyes any where beams upon you me that you I do not feel the hint ^and the extasy of the presence of God?— himself?—

You We are I am not on visiting terms with the rich connoisseur at his palace up town, who shows his envying visitors through his sumptuous galleries of of Rich work from Italy and France, that they all are, and I too love to see them with [cut away] many many thousand dollars. [cut away] a qu[arter?] of a million.—X

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