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of Democracy, making old history a dwarf-I alone inaugurating largeness, culminating time. If these, O lands of America, are indeed the prizes, the determinations of your Soul, be it so. But behold the cost, and already specimens of the cost. Behold, the anguish of suspense, existence itself wavering in the balance, uncertain whether to rise or fall; already close behind you and around you, thick winrows of corpses on battle-fields, countless maimed and sick in hospitals, treachery among Generals, folly in the Executive and Legislative depart-. ments, schemers, thieves everywhere—cant, credulity, make-believe everywhere. Thought you greatness waз to ripen for you, like a pear? If you would have greatness, know that you must conquer it through ages, centuries must pay for it with a proportionate price. For you too, as for all lands, the struggle, the traitor, the wily person in office, scrofulous wealth, the surfeit of prosperity, the demonism of greed, the hell of passion, the decay of faith, the long postponement, the fossil-like lethargy, the ceaseless need of revolutions, prophets, thunder-storms, deaths, births, new projections, and invigorations of ideas and men.'
The "Memoranda during the War" is mainly a record of personal experiences, nursing the sick and wounded soldiers in the hospitals; most of it is in a low key, simple, unwrought, like a diary kept for one's-self, but it reveals the large, tender, sympathetic soul of the poet, and puts in practical form that unprecedented and fervid comradeship which is his leading element, even more than his elaborate works. It is printed almost verbatim, just as the notes were
jotted down at the time and on the spot. It is impossible to read it without the feeling of tears, while there is elsewhere no such portrayal of the common soldier, and such appreciation of him as is contained in its pages. It is heart's blood, every word of it, and along with "Drum-taps" is the only literature of the war thus far, entirely characteristic, and worthy of serious mention. There are in particular two passages in the "Memoranda" that have amazing dramatic power, vividness, and rapid action, like some quick painter covering a large canvas. I refer to the account of the assassination of President Lincoln, and that of the scenes in Washington after the first battle of Bull Run. What may be called the massmovement of Whitman's prose style, the rapid marshaling and grouping together of many facts and details, gathering up, and recruiting, and expanding, as the sentences move along, till the force and momentum become like a rolling flood, or an army in echelons on the charge, is here displayed with wonderful effect.
Noting and studying what forces move the world, the only sane explanation that comes to me of the fact that such writing as these little volumes contain has not, in this country especially, met with its due recognition and approval, is, that like all Whitman's works, they have really never yet been published at all, in the true sense - have never entered the arena where the great laurels are won. They have been printed by the author, and a few readers have found
them out, but to all intents and purposes they are unknown.
I have not dwelt on Whitman's personal circumstances, his age (he is now, 1877, entering his 59th year), paralysis, seclusion, and the treatment of him by certain portions of the literary classes, although those have all been made the subjects of wide discussion of late, both in America and Great Britain, and have, I think, a bearing under the circumstances on his character and genius. It is an unwritten tragedy that will doubtless always remain unwritten. I will but allude to an eloquent appeal of the Scotch poet, Robert Buchanan, published in London in March, 1876, eulogizing and defending the American bard in his old age, illness, and poverty, from the swarms of maligners who still continue to assail him. The appeal has this fine passage:—
"He who wanders through the solitudes of far-off Uist or lonely Donegal may often behold the Golden Eagle sick to death, worn with age or famine, or with both, passing with weary waft of wing from promontory to promontory, from peak to peak, pursued by a crowd of rooks and crows, which fall back screaming whenever the noble bird turns his indignant head, and which follow frantically once more, hooting behind him, whenever he wends again upon his way.”
Skipping many things I would yet like to touch upon for this paper is already too long-I will say in conclusion that if any reader of mine is moved by what I have here written to undertake the peru
sal of "Leaves of Grass," or the later volume, "Two Rivulets," let me yet warn him that he little suspects what is before him. Poetry in the Virgilian, Tennysonian, or Lowellian sense, it certainly is not. Just as the living form of man in its ordinary garb is less beautiful (yet more beautiful) than the marble statue; just as the living woman and child that may have sat for the model, is less beautiful (yet more so) than one of Raphael's finest madonnas, or just as a forest of trees addresses itself less directly to the feeling of what is called art and form than the house or other edifice built from them; just as you, and the whole spirit of our current times, have been trained to feed on and enjoy, not Nature or Man, or the aboriginal forces, or the actual, but pictures, books, art, and the selected and refined—just so these poems will doubtless first shock and disappoint you. Your admiration for the beautiful is never the feeling directly and chiefly addressed in them, but your love for the breathing flesh, the concrete reality, the moving forms and shows of the universe. A man reaches and moves you, not an artist. Doubtless, too, a certain withholding and repugnance has first to be overcome, analogous to a cold sea plunge-and it is not till you experience the reaction, the after-glow, and feel the swing and surge of the strong waves, that you know what Walt Whitman's pages really are. They don't give themselves at first - like the real landscape and the sea, they are all indirections. You may have to try them many times; there is something of Nature's
rudeness and forbiddingness, not only at the first, but probably always. But after you have mastered them by resigning yourself to them, there is nothing like them anywhere in literature for vital help and meaning. The poet says:
"The press of my foot to the earth springs a hundred affections, That scorn the best I can do to relate them."
And the press of your mind to these pages will certainly start new and countless problems that poetry and art have never before touched, and that afford a perpetual stimulus and delight.
It has been said that the object of poetry and the higher forms of literature is to escape from the tyranny of the real into the freedom of the ideal,but what is the ideal unless ballasted and weighted with the real? All these poems have a lofty ideal background; the great laws and harmonies stretch unerringly above them, and give their vista and perspective. It is because Whitman's ideal is clothed with rank materiality, as the soul is clothed with the carnal body, that his poems beget such warmth and desire in the mind, and are the reservoirs of so much power. No one can feel, more than I, how absolutely necessary it is that the facts of nature and experience be born again in the heart of the bard, and receive the baptism of the true fire before they be counted poetical; and I have no trouble on this score with the author of "Leaves of Grass." He never fails to ascend into spiritual meanings. Indeed, the spirituality