Whitman on Poe: “I have seen Poe--met
him: he impressed me very favorably; was dark, quiet, handsome--southern from
top to toe: languid, tired out, it is true, but altogether ingratiating.”
(Traubel, from Whitman in his Own Time
Alcott and Thoreau visited Whitman in 1856
Alcott: Ocotber 4, 1856.
I have been to
see Walt Whitman. . . A nondescript, he is not so easily described, nor seen
to be sudescribed.
Bacchus-browed, bearded like a satyr, and rank, he wears his man-Bloomer in
defiance of everybody, having these as everything else after his own fashion,
and for example to all men hereafter.
Red flannel undershirt, open-breasted, exposing his brawny neck;
striped calico jacket over this, the collar Byroneal, with coarse cloth
overalls buttoned to it; cowhide boots; a heavy round-about, with huge outside
pockets and buttons to match; and a slouched hat, for house and street
Eyes gray, unimaginative,
cautious yet sagacious; his voice deep, sharp, tender sometimes and almost
When talking will recline upon
the couch at length, pillowing his head upon his bended arm, and informing you
naively how lazy he is, and slow.
Listens well. … He has never been sick, he says, nor taken medicine,
nor sinned, and so is quite innocent of repentance and man’s fall.
1859-62, Whitman was often at Pfaff’s, a gathering spot for New York Bohemians
who disdained bourgeois conventions. His “Out of the Cradle” was first
published in publisher Henry Clapp’s weekly Saturday Press.