In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: Poem for the good old cause

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: Between 1850 and 1871

Whitman Archive ID: upa.00002

Source: Walt Whitman Collection, 1842–1957, Rare Book & Manuscript Library, University of Pennsylvania. 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 manuscript includes ideas for two poems, one of which is titled "Poem for the good old cause." Possibly this is a very early draft of the poem "To Thee Old Cause," which first appeared in the 1871 edition of Leaves of Grass. However, Whitman used the term "good old cause" as early as the 1855 edition, where it appears in the Preface. The phrase probably originated in England during the seventeenth century, shortly after the English Civil War, and was frequently used by Whitman (see Clarence Gohdes, "Whitman and the 'Good Old Cause,'" American Literature 34.3 [November 1962]: 400–403). Aided by the earlier work of Richard Maurice Bucke in Notes and Fragments (1899), Edward Grier suggests that this manuscript likely was written prior to 1860 (Notebooks and Unpublished Prose Manuscripts [New York: New York University Press, 1984], 4:1329). The titles of both of the proposed poems ("Poem of...") suggest the title format of the 1856 edition. The second proposed poem, titled "Poem of the People," is not known to have led to a published work.

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

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Poem for of of adherence to of my adherence the good old cause

the "good old cause" is that in all its diversities, in all lands, at all times, under all circumstances,—which promulges liberty, justice, the Cause of the people as against infidels and tyrants


Poem of the People


represent the People, so copious so simple, so fierce, so frivilous

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