In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: Italian Music in Dakota

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: Between 1879 and 1881

Whitman Archive ID: yal.00003

Source: Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. 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: "Italian Music in Dakota" was published first in the 1881–82 edition of Leaves of Grass. This manuscript was likely composed between 1879 and 1881, after Whitman took a trip to the West (though not the Dakota Territory) and before the poem was published.

Contributors to digital file: Nicole Gray, Nick Krauter, Lisa Renfro, Andy Jewell, Jennifer R. Overkamp, Kenneth Price, and Brett Barney

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^Italian Music in Dakota

By Walt Whitman

small type ¶

["The Seventeenth—the finest Regimental Band I ever heard."]

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Through the soft evening air, enwinding all,

Rocks, woods, fort, cannon, pacing sentries, ^endless wilds,

Ray'd in the limpid, yellow slanting

From In dulcet strains, in flutes' & cornets' notes,

Ray'd in the limpid, yellow, slanting sundown;

Electric, pensive, turbulent, artificial,

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(Yet ^strangely fitting thee, O nNature, even here— mean-
ings unknown before,

Subtler than ever—more harmony—as if born
here—related here,

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Not to the citys frescoed rooms—not to the
audience of the opera house,

Sounds, songs, trills, wandering strains, as
really home return'd here at home;

Sonnambula's innocent love—trios, with
Norma's anguish,

And thy extatic c[o?]horus Poliuto;)

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Ray'd in the limpid, yellow slanting sundown,

Music—Italian music in Dakota.

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blank line

While Nature, sovereign of this
gnarled realm,

Lurking in some his hidden, barbaric, grim

(Acknowledging rapport, however far‑removed,

(As some old root, or soil of earth, its
own true-born flower or fruit,

Listens, well-pleased,

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