In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: I know many beautiful things

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: Between 1850 and 1855

Whitman Archive ID: tex.00031

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: Whitman probably drafted this manuscript between 1850 and 1855, as he was composing the first (1855) edition of Leaves of Grass. Ideas and phrases from the manuscript appear in the first poem in that edition, eventually titled "Song of Myself." This manuscript also includes lines and phrases that appear in other manuscripts. See "Lofty sirs" and "Rule in all addresses."

Contributors to digital file: Caitlin Henry, Nicole Gray, and Leslie Ianno

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I know many beautiful things about men and women

But I do not know any thing more beautiful than to be freehanded
and always go on the square.—

I see the saw see an aristocrat;

I see saw see a a smoucher and a hog, grabbing the
good dishes ^exclusively to himself,. and grinning
at the starvation of others, as if
it were funny.—

I see yet gaze on hear the greedy hog,; as he roots and snorts ^as he roots anin the costly delicate
green house.—

How those niggers smell!

Must that hod‑boy ride in occupy the same stage with me?

Doth the dirt doze and forget itself?

And let tomatos ripen for busters and prostitutes street night walkers

And do no better for me—

Who am a regular gentlemen or lady,

With a marble broad stoop to my house residence , and a silver door plate, and a
steady pew in church?

And I is the day here when I vote at the polls,

One with the immigrant that last August
strewed lime in my gutter?

One with Sambo the thick‑lipped slave, black? or the son of a slave? the black?

And can dew wet the air, the night [illegible] after such
may be elected to Congress,

And make laws over me?—


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And Thus the Have you heard [illegible] the gurgle the of gluttons, ready to stuff them continually
perfectly willing to stuff themselves;

While then laugh at good fun of the starvation of others, as if it
was funny.—

But when the gaunt and the starved awkwardly come
for their slices—

Their quiet changes to angry hysterics

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It is for the wish babies to lift themselves out of their

I go not with the large babies who


Do not suppose me one I am none of the large baby [rac?] sort;[illegible]

I have no wish to lift myself out of above breathing air, by something and be
^specially eminent or spe [illegible] specially forced [illegible] or attractive;

I am not quite such a fool as that

I remain with common people on equal average terms.—

I am too great to be a mere leader. or

I see nothing nothing nothing

I know many beautiful things about men and women

But I do not know ^ of any thing more beautiful than to
be free handed and generous and always go on
the square.—

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