In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: Advance shapes like his shape

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: Between 1854 and 1860

Whitman Archive ID: tex.00028

Source: The Walt Whitman Collection, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin. 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 ellipses would suggest that this is an early manuscript, probably written in the mid- to late-1850s. It is an adaptation of notes Whitman took about Egypt, almost certainly from his reading of Sir John Gardner Wilkinson's Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians, 3 vols. (London: John Murray, 1837). Related information about Sesostris appears on page 29 of the first volume in Wilkinson's collection, though Whitman may have been reading a different edition. Whitman used the information in his article "One of the Lessons Bordering Broadway: The Egyptian Museum," published in Life Illustrated on December 8, 1855. Similar descriptions of Sesostris appear in several of Whitman's other notes and manuscripts, including "Immortality was realized" and "Abraham's visit to Egypt," two sets of manuscript notes about Egypt that Edward Grier dates to between 1855 and 1860 (Notebooks and Unpublished Prose Manuscripts [New York: New York University Press, 1984], 5:1922; 6:2022); and the notebook "women," including the fragments from that notebook that Whitman reused to create the larger page "Chronological."

Contributors to digital file: Nicole Gray and Melody S. Han

[begin leaf 1 recto] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[Page image:]

10 ½

Advance shapes like his shape—the
king of Egypt's shape,

Shapes that tally Sesostris—gigantic
in stature, polished, wholesome, clear-eyed,

Six feet ten inches high— tall—of noble head
and bearded face,

Every limb, every part and organ in
proportion—strong, ^bearded, supple,

Conqueror of two continents in nine years,

Lover most of those that repelled
him sternest . . . . builder to them
of phallic memorials,

Ruler of his race men wisely and friendlily
for sixty-two years, . . . . accepter
, Accepter of all religions—preferer of none,

Freer of slaves . . . . —,giver to farmers of
their own homesteads.
divider among
them of homesteads not . . . . maker of

[begin leaf 1 verso] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[Page image:]


Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Matt Cohen, Ed Folsom, & Kenneth M. Price, editors.