WHITMAN, WALT. 1819-1892. Autograph Manuscript, 1 p, 194 x 159 mm, n.p., [1890?], comprising his thoughts on death,
Lot 270
WHITMAN, WALT. 1819-1892.
Autograph Manuscript, 1 p, 194 x 159 mm, n.p., [1890?], comprising his thoughts on death,
Sold for US$ 25,000 inc. premium

Lot Details
WHITMAN, WALT. 1819-1892.
Autograph Manuscript, 1 p, 194 x 159 mm, n.p., [1890?], comprising his thoughts on death, with corrections and cancellations, mounted on stiff board, with presentation inscription from Horace Traubel to George D. Herron on lower margin of board, paper browned.

REMARKABLE WHITMAN MANUSCRIPT ON DEATH. While Leaves of Grass was justly lauded for its celebration of life, Whitman agreed with Traubel's assessment, "If Leaves of Grass is remarkable for anything, it is its celebration of death." In this brief manuscript, Whitman imagines an "autumnal poem" composed "on the theme of that hour - on Death." Unlike Gray's "Elegy" and Bryant's Thanatopsis" or "Flood of Years," Whitman ventures, "the genuine normal spirit and appropriate mood for the hour is a calm alertness..." and here apparently begins his own elegy, "perhaps / a life of stout toil is over with / over the past not God himself has Power / For what has been has been and I have had my hour." The final lines end with his tribute to Dryden's Imitation of Horace, which, according to Elizabeth Keller who cared for him through his final days, was much on his tongue as he "looked forward to [his death] with fearless expectancy." Keller, "Walt Whitman: The Last Phase," Putnam's Magazine, June, 1909: 331-337. A poignant expression from the great American poet on life's greatest mystery.
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