WHITMAN, Walt. Autograph manuscript, comprising a working draft of the poem “Give me the splendid silent sun,” with the poet’s emendations to four lines; on verso a manuscript fragment of a prose work on Equality and the American government, n.p., n.d. [ca 1870]. Two pages, on a composite sheet assembled by Whitman from a single sheet of lined paper and a smaller unlined slip pasted on verso [written on both sides of slip], with editorial cross-through, a few chips at edges, upper corner cut away with loss of several letters on verso, a few small stains.
WHITMAN’S WORKING DRAFT OF “GIVE ME THE SPLENDID SILENT SUN”, AND HIS THOUGHTS ON THE DUTIES OF THE AMERICAN GOVERNMENT
This poem first appeared in the 1871 edition of Leaves of Grass, and the present manuscript comprises the first seven lines of the first of its two stanzas: “Given me the splendid silent sun, with all his beams full dazzling / Give me the juicy autumnal fruit, ripe & red from the orchard, / Give me a fiend where the unmow’d grass grows, / Give me an arbor, and give me the trellis’d grapes, / Give me fresh corn & wheat – give me serene-moving animals, teaching content; / Give me the nights perfectly quiet as on high plateaus, west of the Mississippi, & I looking up at the stars; / Give me adorous at sunrise, a garden of beautiful flowers, where I can walk undisturbed.” This section roughly comprised one-fourth of the complete poem. It is written on the verso of a sheet Whitman repurposed and on which he had written about equality and the government: “the idea of the perfect equality and average rights and privileges of these States, each toward any other, & towards the whole. And again the idea that the contracts and compacts of American government are strictly with each individual, with you me, the man who stands next to you – and that it is not permitted for the government to shrink its duty to any person or class of persons.”