In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: One obligation of great fresh

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: Before or early in 1855

Whitman Archive ID: med.00737

Source: The transcription presented here is derived from Walt Whitman, Notebooks and Unpublished Prose Manuscripts, ed.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), 4:1550. Grier based his text on Notes and Fragments, ed. Richard Maurice Bucke (London, Ontario: A. Talbot & Co., printers, 1899), 124. The location of this manuscript is unknown. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of manuscripts, see our statement of editorial policy.

Editorial note: Because the manuscript has not been located it is difficult to speculate on the circumstances or date of its composition. The discussion of "the poetic quality" and the punctuation (at least as rendered by earlier editors) are similar to the preface to the 1855 Leaves of Grass, so it is possible that the composition date was before or early in 1855.

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

One obligation of great fresh bards remains . . . the clink of words is empty and offensive . . . the poetic quality blooms simple and earnest as the laws of the world.

The audible rhyme soon nauseates . . . the inaudible rhyme is delicious without end.


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