In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: My hand will not hurt

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: Between 1850 and 1855

Whitman Archive ID: uva.00254

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. Lines in the manuscript are similar to lines that appear in the first poem in that edition, eventually titled "Song of Myself." The numbers written on the manuscript, along with remnants of paste and binding tape along the margin, suggest that the page likely came from a notebook. Lines similar to the last several in this manuscript were also reworked in the notebook "Talbot Wilson."

Related item: Notes written on the back of this manuscript leaf also relate to lines in the poem eventually titled "Song of Myself." See uva.00601.

Notes written on manuscript: On leaf 1 recto, in unknown hand: "7"

Contributors to digital file: Brandon James O'Neil, Brett Barney, and Nicole Gray

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My touch hand will not hurt what it holds, and
yet will devour it,

That It must remain whole perfect before ^me though I
enclose and divide it.

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Only one minute, only two or three passing bulging sheathed touches,

Yet they gather all of me and my spirit into
a knot,

They hold us so long enough ^there, to show us what
life we can be,—

And that my ^ senses and our flesh, and even a part of my our flesh,
is ^seems more than my ^all my our senses and life.—

What has become of my senses?

One A tTouch of a tag of me tassel, has unhaltered jolted down
all of them but feeling;

That He pleases the rest so, they have given
up to it, in submission,

They are all emulous to swap off for what
it can do to them.

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Every one must be a touch, ^would swap off and go with him,

Or else she will abdicate, and nibble at the
edges end of [illegible] him.—edges of me.—

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