In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: is wider than the west

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: Before or early in 1855

Whitman Archive ID: nyp.00510

Source: The Henry W. and Albert A. Berg Collection of English and American Literature, New York Public Library. 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 draft fragment includes phrases and poetic lines that were revised and used in different editions of Leaves of Grass. "The orbed opening of whose mouth," struck through on this manuscript, is suggestive of a line that appeared in 1855 in the poem ultimately titled "Song of Myself": "The orbic flex of his mouth is pouring and filling me full." The line "Nature is rude at first—but once begun never tires" was used slightly altered in "Song of the Open Road," first published in the 1856 edition of Leaves of Grass under the title "Poem of the Road." Edward Grier, drawing from Richard Maurice Bucke's Notes and Fragments (1899), adds a bracketed conclusion to the last line: "Most works of art [tire. Only the Great Chef d'OEuvres never tire and never dazzle at first.]" (Notebooks and Unpublished Prose Manuscripts [New York: New York University Press, 1984], 1:168). The line does not currently appear on the manuscript.

Related item: On the back of this manuscript is a prose fragment on the subject of knowledge and learning that is reminiscent of the poem "When I Heard the Learn'd Astronomer." See nyp.00024.

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

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is wider than the west.—


The orbed opening of whose mouth—


Nature is rude at first—but once begun never tires

Most works of art [tire?] [cut away]

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