Tag Archives: Roger Smith

Walt Whitman, “Brooklyn Parks”


Walt Whitman, ‘Brooklyn Parks’

Posted here (Word document above):

Walt Whitman. “BROOKLYN PARKS”

Brooklyn Daily Times, April 17, 1858

What intrigues me is Whitman’s mention of “a Park on the heights, over Montague ferry!,” whereby he refers to the neighborhood of Brooklyn Heights, from which there is a splendid view of Manhattan.


— posted by Roger W. Smith

   January 2023


Brooklyn Heights; photo by Roger W. Smith

Brooklyn Heights; photo by Roger W. Smith


Walt Whitman, “Philosophy of Ferries”


Walt Whitman, ‘Philosophy of Ferries’

Posted here (Word document above):

Walt Whitman “Philosophy of Ferries,” Brooklyn Daily Eagle, August 11, 1947

IN The Uncollected Poetry and Prose of Walt Whitman; Much of Which Has Been But Recently Discovered, with Various Early Manuscripts; Now First Published; Collected and Edited by Emory Holloway, Volume One, pp. 168-171 (Gloucester, Mass. Peter Smith, 1972)



Things haven’t changed much since Whitman’s day.


— posted by Roger W. Smith

   January 2023


photo by Roger W. Smith



See also my post

the ferry

the ferry

Walt Whitman, “Broadway”


Walt Whitman, ‘Broadway’ (2)

Posted here (Word document above):

Wat Whitman, “BROADWAY”

Life Illustrated, August 9, 1856

an unsigned article attributed to Whitman, reprinted in

New York Dissected By Walt Whitman: A Sheaf of Recently Discovered Newspaper Articles by the Author of LEAVES OF GRASS; Introduction and Notes by Emory Holloway and Ralph Adimari (New York: Rufus Rockwell Wilson, Inc. 1936), pp. 119-124



Whitman’s experiences and impressions in his pre-Civil War years are similar to my own in Manhattan jaunts. (I also love to take the ferry.) As noted by Emory Holloway and Ralph Adimari:

When Moncure D. Conway, at Emerson’s suggestion, called upon Whitman a month or so after the appearance of Leaves of Grass, in 1855, he took a walk with him through the city. “Nothing could surpass,” he says, “the blending of insouciance with active observation in his manner as we strolled along the streets”. … Whitman had been walking the streets, riding the omnibuses and crossing the ferries for many years. His memory was stored with so many such impressions that one of his early manuscripts describes his mind as a picture gallery. Perhaps it was from a desire to reconcile the contradictions in these multiform and inharmonious impressions that the poet sought escape in mystical rhapsody. The peculiar quality of Whitman’s elevated poetic mood, however, is due to the fact that instead of withdrawing his mind ascetically from experience, he sought rather to use definite concrete experiences to climb to a summit of vision which would embrace them all.

— posted by Roger W. Smith

January 2022






A friend of mine from Europe said in a message that he hoped to visit New York sometime and would love to see “Broadway Avenue.” I wrote him back with some facts.

I am attaching an explanatory Word document (above) and photos I have taken in my walks.

My photos show Broadway near Wall Street and Broadway way uptown; it goes from the southernmost to the northernmost point (218th Street) of Manhattan.

— Roger W. Smith

  January 2023


photos by Roger W. Smith

Broadway and Rector Street, Financial District

Times Square

Broadway and 156th Street, Upper Manhattan

Washington Heights


Broadway and 218th Street

… that individuals matter


Why did individual soldiers matter so much to Walt Whitman? The young men whom he provided care and comfort to as a volunteer in army hospitals during the Civil War.

As persons — not just “cases”; patients needing care and. above all, attention.

They certainly did. Witness the accounts — Whitman’s own — of his regular visits to hospitals in Washington during the Civil War.

For example:

Walt Whitman

to Mr. and Mrs. S. B. Haskell, Breseport, County New York, August 10, 1863

Whitman 1


And here is an excerpt from another letter showing how much people he encountered and got to know mattered to Whitman:

Walt Whitman to Hugo Fritsch, 1863

Whitman 2



Allow me to talk about myself.

I am at a point in my life where I don’t need compliments — although, naturally, I appreciate and welcome them, store them up in my “bank” of pleasant remembrances.

But I don’t worry much about what people think of me.

I am introspective, often find fault with myself. I also have some knowledge of good points of my own that I might have once overlooked.

For instance: I think I appreciate this about Whitman — what I spoke of above — because I can see it in myself and my own behavior. Individuals I encounter in all sorts of situations in daily life are rarely negligible to me. They are almost all unique — all, a priori, interesting and valuable to me for having met them. This includes people met in what might be thought of as perfunctory encounters.

Whitman regarded it as a privilege to meet young soldiers from various places and backgrounds. The same with me with the people I encounter.

A couple of examples — trivial, except that they make my point.

Fiona, the clerk from Queens whom I engaged in conversation at a FedEx center on Madison Avenue a few months ago. (I was sending something.) She said she loved talking with me. I haven’t forgotten her. We compared notes about living in New York.

An HP help desk technician from India who answered a call recently. I found him very interesting and congenial and learned much from him about India and especially a particular interest of his: languages, including Sanskrit. As the talk progressed (during which he was working on my computer remotely), it got more and more friendly and interesting. He sent me an email after the online session:

November 4, 2022

Hello Roger,

Greetings of the day!!

This e-mail is with reference to your case ID : _____. If you have any issues please call us directly.

It was really really nice talking to you.

Have a great day!



The workers at my favorite pub: Philomena, Amy, Jemina, Yesmin, Alexa, Anniika, Bianca, Noureen, Fiona (my first waitress friend; just left).

I owe these traits and proclivities of mine to my parents. I would say that it is a matter of showing an appreciation for and a keen interest in people.


— posted by Roger W. Smith

   January 2023

Vivaldi, “Qui sedes ad dexteram Patrtis”


Vivaldi, “Qui sedes ad dexteram Patrtis”



from his Gloria, RV 588

Sometimes I think that Vivaldi does not get as much credit as he deserves.

Which is to say that everyone knows The Four Seasons — one hears it in advertising — but many of the choral works, such as this one (the lesser known of three Glorias known to have been composed by Vivaldi in his lifetime), are not preformed or heard that often.

This performance is by the Budapest Madrigal Choir under the direction of Ferenc Szekeres.

— posted by Roger W. Smith

   January 2023

Walt Whitman, “The Great Army of the Sick”

Walt Whitman, ‘The Great Army of the Sick’ – NY Times 2-26-1863


Posted here:

Walt Whitman

“The Great Army of the Sick; Military Hospitals in Washington”

The New York Times

February 26, 1863


— Roger W. Smith

   January 2023

new post – Theodore Dreiser and Eugene Field


Please see my post re Eugene Field (a favorite author of mine from childhood) and Theodore Dreiser at the following URL

Eugene Field


— Roger W. Smith

my first few days in the City


I was hired by the New York Friends Group at a salary of eighty dollars a week. My job title was Workroom Supervisor. I sorted mail, ran the mimeograph machine, kept office supplies intact, was messenger and delivery boy.

I had stayed overnight in Westchester with a college roommate and his girlfriend. They were visiting her family there. They drove me to Manhattan on my first day of work. It was April 1969.

My roommate said, while we on the FDR Drive, do you have any cash? Not much, I answered. He was a rich kid with a fancy sports car and was generous. He pulled $150 out of his wallet – it seemed like a large sum to me – and handed it to me.

I had almost no money and had made no arrangements for an apartment or room. I wouldn’t be paid for a couple of weeks.

Someone – an older woman, a longtime New Yorker — at the office kindly suggested a YMCA – I think on 34th Street – to me. I don’t know why I didn’t check it out. I believe it was because it kind of sounded “institutional” and the thought of staying there did not appeal to me.

The office manager at 218 East 18th Street, who was living with his girlfriend – she worked at the same place – and his girlfriend Betsy put me up overnight on my first night at their apartment in Greenwich Village. Where his wife was or the state of his marriage I didn’t know. In the morning, his two sons – the typical precocious city kids – were at the breakfast table.

Betsy, the girlfriend, and I took a cab to the office, which was on East 18th Street. I guess the office manager reported to work either earlier or later. Betsy was in her late twenties. She wore sunglasses in New York fashion and kept saying to the taxi driver, “DRIVER, turn here. DRIVER …” Imperiously. I was sort of put off by it.

For several days, I slept on the office floor. As office boy, I had been given a key to the building. (I think I had the responsibility of opening up in the morning.) I would pretend to go home at 5 p.m., would do a reversal and come back; unlock the door, go to one of the upper floors (my “office” was in the basement), and sleep on a rug. It was relatively conformable.

The only thing I knew how, practically, to cook was rice. Boiled. I bought a box of rice at Bohack supermarket on Third Avenue. I would cook it in a kitchen that was on one of the upper floors. I had probably bought soy sauce too.

Over the weekend, probably, I would go out and explore the neighborhood, feeling pretty lonely.

This went on a for a week or less; and then I had a series of improvised living arrangements which were mostly unsatisfactory and of short duration. I finally found a studio apartment in Queens.

— Roger W. Smith