In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: I am become the poet

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: Between 1850 and 1855

Whitman Archive ID: uva.00269

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. The first line in this manuscript matches a line in the "Talbot Wilson" notebook (recto leaf 38), and is similar in structure to lines that appeared in the first poem in the 1855 edition of Leaves, eventually titled "Song of Myself." The image of the poet navigating stairs also appears in what would become section 44 of "Song of Myself."

Related item: Draft lines written on the back of this manuscript leaf may also relate to the poem eventually titled "Song of Myself." See uva.00600.

Notes written on manuscript: On leaf 1 recto, in unknown hand: "19"

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

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

[Page image:]

I am become the poet of babes and
the little things

[paper glued]

I descend [many?] steps—I go backward primeval

My equanimous arms feet


I surround retrace things steps oceanic—I pass
to around not merely my own kind, but
all the objects I see.—

[begin leaf 1 verso] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[Page image:]


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