Printed Poem Signed Walt Whitman, one page, small oblong octavo, undated [ca. 1884-1885]. Entitled “Of that Blithe Throat of Thine.”
“Of that blithe throat of thine from arctic bleak and blank/ I’ll mind the lesson, solitary bird – let me too welcome chilling drifts,/ E’en the profoundest chill, as now – a torpid pulse, a brain unnerv’d,/ Old age land-lock’d within its wintry bay – cold, cold, O cold!)/ These snowy hairs, my feeble arm, my frozen feet,/ For them thy faith, thy rule I take, and grave it to the last;/ Not summer’s zones alone – not chants of youth, or south’s warm tides alone,/ But held by sluggish floes, pack’d in the northern ice, the cumulus of years,/ These with gay heart I also sing.”
The 1955 Detroit Public Library catalog, entitled Walt Whitman, A Selection of Manuscripts, Books and Association Items gathered by Charles E. Feinberg, states that this proof of the poem “Of that Blithe Throat of Thine”, was one of the series sent to various publishers and friends. Whitman’s instructions to the printer, written on one of the copies in the Detroit collection, were to “Correct carefully – then take 50 impressions on paper like this (so as to write on) ab’t this size – 20 as here with the name – then take out the name (Walt Whitman) & print the other 30 – (try to give good impressions – a good clean job).” The twenty with the printed signature were sent to magazines and newspapers, while the thirty autographed copies – of which this is one – were distributed by Whitman personally. The first magazine to use the poem was Harper’s Monthly, which ran it in the January, 1885 issue. This proof, then, may date from the latter part of 1884. The poet was at this time suffering from illness and was unable to produce more than a few new pieces. In 1888, after not publishing a book for seven years, he came out with “November Boughs”.
This collection included “Of that Blithe Throat of Thine”, which was subsequently reprinted in the “Sands at Seventy” portion of the 1889 “Leaves of Grass”. The very top portion is affected by previous mounting; otherwise fine condition.
Framed in dark brown, ecru, and carved gilt with a three-quarter length photograph of a seated white bearded Walt Whitman. Framed measurements are 17 inches wide by 11 1/2 inches high.
This item is associated with the following category in our inventory:
- Literature – American