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Walt Whitman manuscript

Identifier: MSS 0099-F0892

Scope and Content Note

This collection consists of an undated, untitled holograph Walt Whitman poem, later published, posthumously, as "186" and "187" in Notes and Fragments (1899).

The poem is inscribed in Whitman’s hand on a remaindered piece of ruled Department of Justice stationery. It consists of two passages or fragments which were later published posthumously in the 1899 Notes and Fragments. The passages were published as "first drafts and rejected lines and passages, mostly very fragmentary, from 'Leaves of Grass,' largely antecedent to the 1855 edition" by the book’s editor, Richard Maurice Bucke, who had received the manuscripts in his capacity as one of Whitman’s literary executors. The passages are not titled in the manuscript; Bucke identified them as "186" and "187". "186" is inscribed on the recto of the leaf, with some additional corrections by Whitman (first line: "The same old mystery and problem"). "187" is inscribed on the verso of the leaf, with some additional corrections by Whitman (first line: "The true, new world, the world of science, mind and literature"). The corrected states of the manuscript are textually identical to the poems as published in Notes. It is unclear from the manuscript whether the two passages were intended by Whitman to be individual entities or parts of the same poem. The manuscript itself is not dated; the stationery on which it is written has the year "187[ ]" printed on it, with a blank space in which the last digit of the year would have been filled in by hand; therefore, the manuscript cannot have been composed any earlier than 1870.


  • Creation: circa 1870-1892


Language of Materials

Materials entirely in English.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections, University of Delaware Library,

Walt Whitman (1819-1892)

American poet Walt Whitman was born on May 31, 1819, in West Hills, Long Island, New York, and died of illness on March 26, 1892, in Camden, New Jersey. Whitman is best known for his collection of poetry, Leaves of Grass, which was first published in 1855. Whitman continued to revise and rework his Leaves of Grass for the remainder of his life, ultimately producing nine different editions, each featuring further revisions, new poems, and some deletions of earlier poems. In 1881, Whitman settled on the final arrangement of Leaves of Grass and subsequently made no further revisions to the core text. All new poems written after 1881 were added to Leaves of Grass as annexes to the 1881 edition; the final authorial edition of his poems, the so-called "death-bed" edition, appeared in 1892, shortly before his demise.

"Walt Whitman." Encyclopedia of World Biography, 2nd ed. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. (accessed March 2011). Whitman, Walt. Notes and Fragments. Ed. Richard Maurice Bucke. London, Ontario, Canada: Printed for the Editor by A. Talbot & Co., 1899.


1 item (2 pages)


This collection consists of an undated, untitled holograph Walt Whitman poem, later published, posthumously, as "186" and "187" in Notes and Fragments (1899).


Source unknown.

Related Materials in this Repository

This item forms part of MSS 0099 Miscellaneous Literary and Historical Manuscripts.

MSS 0099, F0277 Walt Whitman letter to Thomas Donaldson.

MSS 0099, F0661 Walt Whitman note.

MSS 0099, F0819 Horace Traubel collection of Walt Whitman papers.

This manuscript appeared in "Walt Whitman in His Time and Ours" February-June 2019, University of Delaware - Morris Library.

Shelving Summary

Box V-1, F0892: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0099 manuscript boxes.


Processed and encoded by Alexander Clark Johnston, March 2011. Further encoded by George Apodaca, October 2015.

Finding aid for Walt Whitman manuscript
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
2011 March 11
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Delaware Library Special Collections Repository

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