Walt Whitman: Poems


While this Selection was passing through the press, it has been my privilege to receive two letters from Mr. Whitman, besides another communicated to me through a friend. I find my experience to be the same as that of some previous writers: that, if one admires Whitman in reading his books, one loves him on coming into any personal relation with him--even the comparatively distant relation of letter-writing.

The more I have to thank the poet for the substance and tone of his letters, and some particular expressions in them, the more does it become incumbent upon me to guard against any misapprehension. He has had nothing whatever to do with this Selection, as to either prompting, guiding, or even ratifying it: except only that he did not prohibit my making two or three verbal omissions in the _Prose Preface to the Leaves of Grass_, and he has supplied his own title, _President Lincoln's Funeral Hymn_, to a poem which, in my Prefatory Notice, is named (by myself) _Nocturn for the Death of Lincoln_. All admirers of his poetry will rejoice to learn that there is no longer any doubt of his adding to his next edition "a brief cluster of pieces born of thoughts on the deep themes of Death and Immortality." A new American edition will be dear to many: a complete English edition ought to be an early demand of English poetic readers, and would be the right and crowning result of the present Selection.

W. M. R. 1868.