As promised I said I would return to talk about a special Walt Whitman Book. Its later than I thought, I had to have my 6 monthly Heart Check-up at the Doctor’s this morning. One or two problems I did not expect, and I have to go back tomorrow morning, but here we are now and to that Book.
It is very old and for its age well looked after, it was obviously well loved. As I said previously it is – Walt Whitman’s Workshop A Collection of Unpublished Manuscripts. It is Edited with an Introduction and Notes by Clifton Joseph Furness. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 1928, making it 90 years old next year. It is a Limited Edition of 750 copies. The paper used is what I was told a long time ago was referred to as Indian Paper, it is rough edged.
The sixth page in the following is printed.
“Make The Works” Whitman’s motto that he kept at his work-table.
The Workshop . . .
The paper I write on or you
write on, every word we write,
every cross and twirl of the
pen, and the curious way we
write we think, yet very
faintly . . .
In them realities for you and
me – in them poems for you
and me . . .
In them themes, hints, provokers.
From “Chants Democratic” (1860)
The pages of the lesson having writ to train
myself – – to you I bring them here and now
resign with all their blots, to image back the
process for your use.
From MS. of unpublished Preface by Walt Whitman.
There are many Photographs of Walt Whitman within the book, along with photographs of handwritten Manuscripts, he appeared to have such lovely flowing handwriting. Pages on Notes for Lectures. Notes for Lectures on Literature. Anti Slavery Notes. Pages 98 – 99 seemed to have been well read, the spine being folded the subject The Eighteenth Presidency.
Introductions Intended for American Editions of “Leaves of Grass”
Certainly one of the permanently interesting stories of lost manuscripts is that connected with the disappearance and final recovery of the seven separate notebooks in which Whitman worked over the material for introductions to future editions of Leaves of Grass. All the work on them was done at intervals between the appearance of the first edition of the Leaves, in 1855, and the date of his fifty-first birthday (May 31, 1870), which is the last date recorded in the manuscripts. He attached throughout his life a certain epochal significance to his birthday, and he seems to have gone through a sort of self-imposed ritual on that day of every year. One important feature of this observance was a mental summary of his life’s work, as accomplished so far, with a projection of possible plans for the future. The record of these birthday reviews and panoramic musings he often committed to paper, with the date of their composition, and some of the entries in these manuscripts were composed in this way. Here we have a series of closely dovetailing documents dealing with the most intimate concern of Whitman’s life, the conception and progressive execution and rounding out of his full scheme of poetic utterance. The manuscripts as they stand are the result of many years of reflection and revision. Their composition dates from the period of the poet’s prime activity, the time when the greater bulk of the poems which brought him enduring fame were being conceived, drafted, revised.
For safe keeping, Whitman fastened these notes, bound as separate booklets, into his own copy of the first edition of Leaves of Grass.
This is just a taste from the book I have, a absolutely fascinating book. To see his handwriting, albeit photos, for me is exciting. People rarely write these days and books like these should be treasured. I love to see the handwriting of people, you can tell an awful lot from one’s handwriting.
This book also gives me an insight into another Poet that I much admire and love, the similarities in the way that, well the way they thought about little things although large to them fascinates me, explains a lot.
As I say this is a very special book that my eldest Son would one day like from me, I would not by any means say I am a hoarder but I do like to collect “special things” things that not only have a special meaning to me but things of significance. This as you may recall from yesterday was purchased for me, by my youngest Son from an Auction from the Private Collection of a late much loved Poet, much vilified – similar to Walt Whitman the vilification he received in his days, he was far “too modern, too romantic” for that period. What they actually are saying is these people are very forward, honest in their thinking and writing. Which I admire immensely. Honesty in writing or even verbal is not liked or wanted by some, I have always been as honest as I can I can’t be any other way, and it saddens me if some find my “honesty” too much, this is me.
That is why I admire those that write that are so honest, you either like the way they write or don’t. To vilify someone in the way that some have been treated to me is appalling, personal abuse is not called for, whether it be a Poet, a Storyteller, or even as we are witnessing now the pathetic personal abuse being thrown at a President Elect. – My view.
I keep this beautiful Book well protected in an extremely old Chest that belonged to the Poet who died nearly two years ago. I have many, many interesting books/plays/all sorts that I was fortunate in having a generous Son purchase for me, most are still in large boxes awaiting more space. More of all of them later perhaps.
I hope you enjoyed this little insight into the mind of a Great Poet, now justly admired. Such a shame that they have to wait for Death and the years to pass before Men like Walt Whitman receive all the praise they rightly deserve.
Thanks for looking in, take care – Anna.