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US professor finds lost Walt Whitman poem

US professor finds lost Walt Whitman poem

There is a new Walt Whitman poem to memorize.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln associate professor Wendy Katz was working her way through penny newspapers at the Library of Congress when she came across a work titled To Bryant, the Poet of Nature. The author was listed as W.W.

‘I was literally going through these newspapers page by page and fully expected to find some of Whitman’s journalism,’  Katz said to the Lincoln Journal Star. ‘I didn’t expect to find a poem.’

The 15-lines of poetry were published in the New Era newspaper on 23 June 1842. The title refers to New York Evening Post editor, and  fellow poet, William Cullen Bryant.

The professor notes the New Era’s editor was Parke Godwin, Bryant’s son-in-law. Katz also discovered Bryant, approximately a week before the poem was printed, wrote a piece about Whitman. All three men were friends shared shared similar political views.

Aside from the personal connection,  To Bryant matches the style and tone of omnisexual’s compositions at the time.

‘It thematically fits with other poems Whitman wrote,’ Katz said to the Lincoln Journal. ‘Whitman’s newspaper poetry was always more conventional, and he would go back to the idea that the physical monuments we build to elevate people are never enough, that the marker of a great person must be how their achievements have elevated everyday life.’

 

To Bryant, the Poet of Nature

Let Glory diadem the mighty dead —
Let monuments of brass and marble rise
To those who have upon our being shed
A golden halo, borrowed from the skies,
And given to time its most enduring prize;
For they but little less than angels were:
But not to thee, oh! nature’s OWN, we should
(When from this clod the minstrel-soul aspires
And joins the glorious band of purer lyres)
Tall columns build: thy monument is here —
For ever fixed in its eternity —
A monument God-built! ‘Tis seen around —
In mountains huge and many gliding streams —
Where’er the torrent lifts a melancholy sound,
Or modest flower in broad savannah gleams.

— W.W., New Era, 23 June 1842