Published Works


About this Item

Title: New York Sunday Times & Noah's Weekly Messenger

Creator: Susan Belasco

Publication information: Written for the Walt Whitman Archive. First published on the Archive in 2008.

Whitman Archive ID: per.00182

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang, Susan Belasco, and Kevin McMullen

Combined as a single weekly in July 1843, the New York Sunday Times & Noah’s Weekly Messenger was edited by the influential Jewish journalist Mordecai M. Noah and T. W. Meighan. During the early 1840s, Whitman worked for several newspapers in New York City, and some scholars think that Whitman may have served briefly as the editor of the Sunday Times (which has no connection to the New York Times, founded in 1851). In the merged Sunday Times & Noah’s Weekly Messenger, Whitman published the first two chapters of a story (signed Walter Whitman), "The Fireman’s Dream: With the Story of His Strange Companion, A Tale of Fantasie and an article which is attributed to him, "A Visit to Greenwood Cemetary. "Tale of a Shirt: A Very Pathetic Ballad, which parodies "Song of the Shirt by the British humorist and poet Thomas Hood, is attributed to Whitman because of the introduction to the poem, printed on March 31, 1844:

Catching clams down on Long Island, (where I was ‘reard,’) up to my waist in water of a cool day, never did drops come into my eyes like those tears which filled them while I was writing the following verses. The sad decease of the hapless Miss Stitch, in the bloom of beauty, and the promise of her life, forms a thrilling theme for painter or poet. What can be more full of woe, than the idea of that interesting girl, sitting stiff and stark, holding the last shirt by the tail? Though I have read the ‘Song of the Shirt,’ I have endeavored not to ‘hook’ any of the author’s ideas at all. W.

Copies of the Sunday Times & Noah’s Weekly Messenger are extremely rare, and the Walt Whitman Archive does not currently have a page image for "Tale of a Shirt: A Very Pathetic Ballad." The transcription has been derived from Walt Whitman, The Journalism, Volume 1: 1834–1846.


Bergman, Herbert. "A Hitherto Unknown Whitman Story and a Possible Early Poem." Walt Whitman Review 28 (March 1982): 3-15.

Mabbott, Thomas Ollive. "Walt Whitman Edits the Sunday Times, July, 1842-June, 1843." American Literature 39 (March 1967): 99-102.

Myerson, Joel. Walt Whitman: A Descriptive Bibliography. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1993.

Whitman, Walt. The Journalism. Edited by Eds. Herbert Bergman, Douglas A. Noverr, and Edward J. Recchia.. Vol. 1. New York: Peter Lang, 1998.


"Tale of a Shirt: A Very Pathetic Ballad." Sunday Times & Noah's Weekly Messenger, 31 March 1844, [unknown]


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