In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: For example, whisper

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: Before 1855

Whitman Archive ID: med.00726

Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, Notebooks and Unpublished Prose Manuscripts, ed. Edward F. Grier (New York: New York University Press, 1984), 1:163. Grier based his text on Notes and Fragments, ed. Richard Maurice Bucke (London, Ontario: A. Talbot & Co., printers, 1899), 168. The location of this manuscript is unknown. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the manuscripts, see our statement of editorial policy.

Editorial note: This manuscript likely contributed to the poem that would eventually be titled "Song of Myself." In it Whitman mentions the "superb wonder of a blade of grass" and uses the term "Koboo," which appeared in the poem in 1855. Gary Schmidgall glosses the term "koboo" as referring to "a native of Sumatra," and Andrew Lawson has noted that Whitman apparently picked up the reference from a book by Walter M. Gibson, an American adventurer (Walt Whitman, Selected Poems, 1855–1892, ed. Gary Schmidgall [New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 1999], 488; Walt Whitman and the Class Struggle [Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2006], 91). The manuscript has not been found. In Notes and Fragments, Richard Maurice Bucke describes it as "a very early note, the paper torn and almost falling to pieces." The date of the manuscript is almost certainly before 1855.

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

For example, whisper privately in your ear . . . the studies . . . be a rich investment if they . . . to bring the hat instantly off the . . . all his learning and bend himself to feel and fully enjoy . . . superb wonder of a blade of grass growing up green and crispy from the ground. Enter into the thoughts of the different theological faiths—effuse all that the believing Egyptian would—all that the Greek—all that the Hindoo, worshipping Brahma—the Koboo adoring his fetish stone or log—the Presbyterian—the Catholic with his crucifix and saints—the Turk with the Koran.


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