In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: Sanity and ensemble characterise

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: 1855 or 1856

Whitman Archive ID: upa.00005

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 consists of fourteen lines related to the prose preface to the first (1855) edition of Leaves of Grass. The writing probably represents one of Whitman's attempts to reshape material from the preface into poems for the 1856 edition of Leaves of Grass. Content from the 1855 preface appeared in the 1856 poems "Poem of Perfect Miracles" (later Miracles), "Poem of Many in One" (later "By Blue Ontario's Shore"), and "Poem of the Last Explanation of Prudence" (later "Song of Prudence"). None of these poems, however, bear obvious similarities to the lines in this manuscript.

Related item: On the reverse of the leaf is a partial draft, about twenty lines, of "By Blue Ontario's Shore." See upa.00221.

Contributors to digital file: Caitlin Henry, Nicole Gray, John Owen Havard, Chris Forster, and Kristen Taylor

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

[Page image:]

Sanity and ensemble characterise the great master,

Innocence and nakedness are resumed,

Theories of the special depart as dreams,

Nothing happens, or ever has happened, or ever can
happen, but the vital laws are enough,

None were or will be hurried—none were or will
be retarded;

A vast clear scheme—each learner learning it
for himself,

Taking men, women, laws, the earth, and the
things of the earth, as they are,

Starting from one'sself, and coming back to one'sself,

Looking always toward the poet, . . . looking toward the

Seeing all tend eternally toward happiness,

What is narrower than gravitation, light, life, of
no account,

What is less than the sure formation of density,
or the patient upheaving of strata, of no account,

What is less than that which follows the thief, the
liar, the glutton, the drunkard, through this life experience, and doubtless afterward,^—that too of no

What does not satisfy all every each one, and convince all— every each one—that
too of no account.—

[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.