Published Works


About this Item

Title: The Subterranean

Creator: Susan Belasco

Whitman Archive ID: per.00186

Source: Written for the Walt Whitman Archive. First published on the Archive in 2008. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the periodical poems, see our statement of editorial policy.

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

In the early 1840s, Whitman lived in New York and wrote for several newspapers, including the Subterranean, edited by Michael (Mike) Walsh, a self-educated journalist committed to the interests of the working classes. Walsh and Whitman probably met when they were both associated with the New York Aurora in 1842. Whitman admired the boisterous Walsh for what he called his "true blue American spirit" in an article in the Aurora on April 9, 1842. Whitman’s poem, "Lesson of the Two Symbols," appeared on the first page of the first issue of Walsh’s newspaper on July 15, 1843. In October 1844, Walsh merged the Subterranean with the Working-Man’s Advocate but the newspaper lasted only a few issues.


Gross, Elliott B. "'Lesson of the Two Symbols': An Undiscovered Whitman Poem." Walt Whitman Review 12 (December 1966): 77-80.

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

Reynolds, David. Walt Whitman's America: A Cultural Biography. New York: Vintage, 1995.

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

Whitman, Walt. Leaves of Grass: Comprehensive Reader's Edition. Edited by Harold W. Blodgett and Sculley Bradley. New York: New York University Press, 1965.


"Lesson of the Two Symbols." Subterranean, 15 July 1843, [1]


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