In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: Do I not prove myself

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: Between 1850 and 1855

Whitman Archive ID: uva.00251

Source: Papers of Walt Whitman (MSS 3829), Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature, Albert H. Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. 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 in the early 1850s as he was composing the first (1855) edition of Leaves of Grass. In language, ideas, and structure, the manuscript most closely resembles lines 39–43 in "Debris," a poem published in the 1860 edition of Leaves of Grass. However, the ideas and some of the language are also similar to other early manuscripts that relate to the first and second poems in the 1855 edition of Leaves, ultimately titled "Song of Myself" and "A Song for Occupations" (see "Priests," "I know as well as," and "[Fa]bles, traditions"). In his transcription of this manuscript, Richard Maurice Bucke combines it with "I ask nobody's faith," but the manuscripts do not appear to be continuous (Notes and Fragments [London, Ontario: A. Talbot & Co., printers, 1899], 25).

Related item: Poetic lines written on the back of this manuscript leaf appeared in the poem eventually titled "Song of Myself." See uva.00568.

Contributors to digital file: Nicole Gray, Chris Forster, and Joshua Ranger

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Do I not prove myself?

I but show ^ lift show a scarlet tomato, or a sprig of parsley,
or a paving stone, or some seaweed,

All acknowledge and admire—savans and synods as
much as the rest.

I meet not one heretic or unbeliever,

Could I do as well with the lore of the pulpits?
—the whole or any part of it?

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