In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: Inscription

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: About 1867

Whitman Archive ID: yal.00010

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: This manuscript was probably written shortly before the publication of the 1867 edition of Leaves of Grass. It is a draft of the first poem of that edition, entitled "Inscription." In 1871 and later editions of Leaves of Grass, Whitman revised the poem, shortened it, and retitled it "One's-Self I Sing."

Contributors to digital file: Nicole Gray, Nick Krauter, Lisa Renfro, Andy Jewell, Kenneth Price, Brett Barney, and Stephen Boykewich

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to the 4th Edition of Leaves of Grass.
[paper glued]

Small is the theme of the following
Chant, yet the greatest—namely,
One's‑Self—that wondrous thing, a
simple, separate person. That, for the use
of the New World, I sing.

[cut away]
[paper glued]

Man's physiology complete from top to toe I
sing. Not physiognomy alone, nor brain alone,
is worthy of the muse;—I say the Form
complete is worthy far. The female,
equally with the male I sing.

Of you, O friend, whoe'er you are, at
last arriving hither to commence, I
feel through every leaf the pressure of
your hand, which I return. And thus
upon our journey link'd together let us

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[Page image:]


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