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Walt Whitman "Spirit that Form'd this Scene" Reproductions of Drafts papers

Identifier: COU:4356

Scope and Contents

Includes one manuscript letter to William Ingram of Telford, Pas. Camden , Sept. 2, [18]89, signed by Whitman.

Transcription of the letter: "Camden pm Sept: 2 '89. Respects & good=will & good luck to you dear friends both - Nothing very new or different with me - I have just finished my early supper (I only eat two meals a day - no dinner) - mutton & rice broth Graham bread & a cup of tea - relish'd all - - Rush was here to-day - his imprisonment over & he goes right off to Concordville (is it?) - he looks well & was very thankful - had your name over & over again with thanks & blessings - I am writing [for Hulin] a little still - have had a bad spell last week & before - one of my worst - but am now ab't as usual considering the steady downward trend - Dr Bucke is well - I enclose [a crossed out] some picture[s]. Walt Whitman"


  • 1889

Biographical / Historical

Walt Whitman (1819-1892), noted American poet, essayist, and journalist, was author of Leaves of Grass in which the poem "Spirit that Form'd this Scene" appears beginning in 1881. Writing in 1902, Oscar Lovell Triggs notes that Leaves of Grass developed over time, beginning with its first appearance in 1855 (see Oscar Lovell Triggs, "The Growth of "Leaves of Grass," The Complete Writings of Walt Whitman (1902), 101-21). Triggs notes that the poems of every edition were written on the open road. The 1881 edition, published by James R. Osgood of Boston, was a complete revision of not only the poems themselves but also of the final sequence of the collection of 318 poems. In an article published by the Boston Globe, (13 August 1881), Whitman wrote:

"It is now, I believe, twenty-six years since I began to work upon the structure ; and this edition will complete the design which I had in mind when I began to write. The whole affair is like one of those architectural edifices, some of which were hundreds of years in building, and the designer of which had the whole idea in mind from the first. His plans were pretty ambitious, and as means or time permits, he adds part after part, perhaps at quite wide intervals. To a casual observer it looks in the course of its construction odd enough. Only after the whole is completed one catches the ideas which inspired the designer, in whose mind the relation of each part to the whole had existed all along. That is the way it has been with my book. It has been twenty-six years building. There have been seven different hitches at it. Seven different times have parts of the edifice been constructed - sometimes in Brooklyn, sometimes in Washington, sometimes in Boston, and at other places. The book has been built partially in every part of the United States. And this edition is the completed edifice." (The Complete Writings of Walt Whitman, 119).

Charles E. Feinberg (1899-1988), president of the Feinberg Foundation and donor of MS 60, was a collector of literary manuscripts of both English and American authors, including material pertaining to Walt Whitman. Feinberg began his collection of Whitman material, including letters, manuscripts, and books, in 1919. He lectured on Whitman at universities throughout the country. Feinberg served as an honorary vice president of the American Friends of Hebrew University for 30 years. For Walt Whitman A Register of His Papers in the Charles E. Feinberg Collection in the Library of Congress, see: For a brief description of the Feinberg Collection, see William White, "The Feinberg Collection," The Long-Islander (May 30, 1963): section 2 page 8.


0.25 linear feet (1 folder)

Language of Materials



Walt Whitman letter written to William Ingram.

Custodial History

MS 60

In Progress
Machine-readable finding guide created by Susan Guinn-Chipman, March, 2008.
March 2008
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries, Rare and Distinctive Collections Repository

1720 Pleasant Street
184 UCB
Boulder Colorado 80503 United States