From the EDITOR'S NOTE. Walt Wh1tman's death finally came as a surprise to his friends. Only two months before it took place Mr. John Burroughs had written to a correspondent, "I have repeatedly said that he would outlive us all;" and this was the belief of those who had observed the good, gray poet's recovery from so many serious attacks of illness. When I visited Camden, with the purpose of gaining his consent to eclectic editions of his poems and prose, the task seemed hopeless. The publication of a volume of ...
From the EDITOR'S NOTE. Walt Wh1tman's death finally came as a surprise to his friends. Only two months before it took place Mr. John Burroughs had written to a correspondent, "I have repeatedly said that he would outlive us all;" and this was the belief of those who had observed the good, gray poet's recovery from so many serious attacks of illness. When I visited Camden, with the purpose of gaining his consent to eclectic editions of his poems and prose, the task seemed hopeless. The publication of a volume of selections from Leaves of Grass had often been urged upon Mr. Whitman, but he never could bring himself to permit it. I should be ungrateful, indeed, were I not to acknowledge here the hearty cooperation afforded me by Mr. Horace L. Traubel, of Camden, in achieving this object. It is well known that he has been for some years the poet's chief friend and assistant in the latter's literary affairs, besides organizing and conducting arrangements for the invalid's personal comfort. I found that Mr. Traubel himself had in mind a volume of prose selections similar to the one now published, but he cordially entered into my plans, and presented me with his intended title, Autobiographia . As in the case of Selected Poems , the plan of this book was approved by Mr. Whitman, but, as in that case also, death prevented his examining the completed work. The sole responsibility for these selections, therefore, rests with the editor, whose purpose has been to give a consecutive account of the poet's life in his own characteristic language. Specimen Days , of course, forms the basis of the book, and I have added in their proper order passages from the author's later volumes, November Boughs and Good Bye My Fancy . By this means a very fair view of his life is afforded. It has not seemed necessary to indicate the frequent omissions from Specimen Days . These passages have been cut out as not directly bearing on the story of his career, or as duplicating similar experiences beyond the limits of this volume. Memoranda During the War , including all of the author's hospital diary here given, was published as a separate volume in 1875, and afterward as a portion of Specimen Day (1883). The nature-notes and much of the travel-notes first appeared in The Critic and the New York Tribune , which journals, with the old Galaxy (published by William C. and Frank P. Church) accepted almost every poem and article offered them by Walt Whitman. The poet's prose style, for the most part, is conversational and loosely written or elaborately involved. In the opening paragraph of Specimen Days the author hints at his lack of strength to revise what follows, and criticism may therefore be deprecated. That he could write effective prose, when willing to take pains, and when not writing by theory, can be seen by the following extract from the preface to Two Rivulets (1876): "As I write these lines, it is again early summer-again my birthday-now my fifty-sixth. Amid the outside beauty and freshness, the sunlight and verdure of the delightful season, O how different the moral atmosphere am id which I now revise this Volume, from the jocund influences surrounding the growth and advent of Leaves of Grass . I occupy myself, arranging these pages for publication, still envelopt in thoughts of the death two years since of my dear Mother, the most perfect and magnetic character, the rarest combination of practical, moral and spiritual, and the least selfish, of all and any I have ever known-and by me O so much the more deeply loved-and also under the physical affliction of a tedious attack of paralysis, obstinately lingering and keeping its hold upon me, and quite suspending all bodily activity and comfort..."..
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