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Title: Yesterday

Creator: Walt Whitman [unsigned in original]

Date: March 28, 1842

Whitman Archive ID: per.00575

Source: New York Aurora 28 April 1842: [2]. Our transcription is based on a digital image of an original issue. Original issue held at the Paterson Free Public Library, Paterson, NJ. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the journalism, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Sydney Bauman, Jason Stacy, Emily Hensley, and Kevin McMullen




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YESTERDAY—

Another charming, delicious, summer like day have we had. The air was bland and clear, the sun shone out, and every body came forth to enjoy the beauty of the season.

It is a pleasant thing to see crowds of well dressed men and women, with smiling faces, promenading our streets or our public grounds. And the little children! the fat, fresh, clean, healthy, merry little children—it is better than splendor to look at them and their gambols. What heart so gross, what brain so deficient in loveableness, as to not be pleased with the spectacle of little children at play?1

Before long it will be time for the trees and grass on the Battery Park, and then so forth, to put forth their foliage.2 And then the poor man and his little flock may enjoy a cheap treat (none the less precious because it is cheap) in passing a couple of hours there on a Sunday.

We should be better pleased were our city government to have more parks—more open places, where a man may look a few rods about him, and his gaze not be intercepted by brick walls, and chimneys, and fences.


Notes:

1. Celebration of children at play was a relatively new concept used by upper-middle class families who could afford to personally raise their children rather than sending them to work. Whitman references children at play to point to a particular type of family one would see at a park, namely a well-dressed, middle-class family. See Stephen Mintz Huck's Raft: A History of American Childhood (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2005). [back]

2. Battery Park, located on the southernmost tip of Manhattan, was formerly an artillery battery to protect the city from naval attacks but was transformed into a public park. [back]


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