WHITMAN, Walt. Autograph manuscript signed (“By Walt Whitman,” at head), comprising a working draft of the poem “Kentucky,” a fragment of five lines with emendations to one line by the poet, n.p., n.d. [ca 1861]. On verso: autograph manuscript, 16 lines on American government and the individual. Together two pages, 5 ¾ x 5 ½ inches, each only fragmentary, “Kentucky” with losses at ends of each line, chips at edges, a few pale stains.
A FRAGMENT OF WHITMAN’S UNFINISHED POEM “KENTUCKY”
The present fragment is one of several known from this proposed long poem. The Library of Congress holds six leaves from the poem, one of which, like the present, is written on the verso of a repurposed sheet. That example, a portion of a letter about Jesse Whitman’s employment, can be dated to 1861, the date most likely attributable to the present manuscript. According to auction records, no other fragment of this fugitive poem has ever been sold. It is boldly titled and signed by the poet at head, and was apparently written on a narrow sheet that was then cropped along the right edge (ellipses below indicating lacunae at ends of lines). It contains its opening lines: “Land of hunters, Race of the pl[…] and sweet tasting rivers. / Virginia’s greater offsping – would […] our pride in you this day […] / America’s pride – while we lis[…] cheer, where it rises, […] up the Ohio, / While we see you advancing, sinewy tendons, drest shirt, carrying your […] shoulder: / While with calm voice the […] speaking – As to you, […]”. Whitman characteristically repurposed another manuscript sheet for this draft, with prose content on the verso adumbrating his verse in “Kentucky”: “Yet in America, in these times, individuality so asserts itself every where, and by such a broad scale, that the reformer as the public man is dwarf’d, and every thing comes or is settled by mass impulses and choosings.”
[With:] WHITMAN, Walt. Autograph manuscript, notes titled “Talk with Dr. Stone,” n.p., n.d. [ca 1865-72]. One page, 24 lines, on verso of stationery from the Attorney General’s Office, chipped at edges, glue remnants on verso from previous mounting.
WHITMAN ON ROMAN ARCHITECTURE
The poet records notes made with a Dr. Stone, most likely the sculptor Horatio Stone who served as a contract surgeon for the Union forces during the Civil War. He is best remembered for his busts and statues, including the full-length statue of Alexander Hamilton that stands in the rotunda of the Capitol Building. Whitman records notes on Roman architecture from a conversation with Stone, listing the Coliseum, Pantheon, Temples of Neptune and Minerva. “Dr. S. speaks hopefully of the future of Italy – of Rome -- & of the Italian people – (on death of either the Pope of Louis Napoleon-Victor Emanuel will enter Rome). St. Peters is a great disappointment. The Cathedral at Milan is inexpressible beautiful…” And his last note is a quintessential Whitman detail, relating to the democratic: “No public buildings in Europe any where will compare with ours in Washing[ton].”