Tag Archives: Walt Whitman

my new sites


I have two new sites that have not gotten much traffic yet.

Roger Smith’s New York



Roger W. Smith’s Walt Whitman site



These sites may be of interest to the general reader.

There is much already posted or under development on my Whitman site that draws upon Whitman scholarship and biographical materials, often rare. Therefore, the site will be of value to scholars. There is also much that will provide enjoyable reading for the non-scholar who either knows Whitman already or would enjoy getting to know his works better. The foregoing comment applies in general to my sites. I try to be readable and interesting and also, where appropriate, to draw upon my extensive reading and research.



I also have a site devoted to Theodore Dreiser:

Roger W. Smith’s Theodore Dreiser site


This site draws upon my extensive knowledge of Dreiser.

And a site devoted to the Russian-American sociologist and social philosopher Pitirim A. Sorokin, in whom I have had a lifelong interest.

Pitirim Alexandrovich Sorokin


The Dreiser site is both scholarly and aimed at the general reader. The Sorokin site may appeal mostly to scholars and students of issues and history connected with Sorokin’s life and works.



My site

Roger’s rhetoric


contains observations about the craft of writing and principles of rhetoric, derived from my professional experience and study, reading, and training. It is potentially of value and interest to anyone who appreciates good writing.

Of interest may be the way in which I draw upon my extensive reading to illuminate my observations. For example, current journalism (I read three or four newspapers daily) and American and world literature. Current issues related to language and usage in a political contest are of particular interest to me.


— Roger W. Smith

   May 2023



I thought of something to add which may sound boastful. I have made good use of my study of languages – namely, French, Spanish, Latin, and Russian; and some German — instruction in which in high school and various universities I am very grateful for. This has informed my knowledge of literature and made possible much scholarship; and one will find in a few of my posts my own translations and readings and sources in other languages. For example, there are posts drawing upon works in other languages, and posts in which I refer to passages from literature both in the original and English translation. I think this adds to the potential interest as well as the value of my work to a broad audience of readers.

“At least I had them in my life.”


Thanks in old age—thanks ere I go,
For health, the midday sun, the impalpable air—for life, mere
For precious ever-lingering memories, (of you my mother dear
—you, father—you, brothers, sisters, friends,)
For all my days—not those of peace alone—the days of war the
For gentle words, caresses, gifts from foreign lands,
For shelter, wine and meat—for sweet appreciation,
(You distant, dim unknown—or young or old—countless, unspecified, readers belov’d,
We never met, and ne’er shall meet—and yet our souls embrace,
long, close and long;)
For beings, groups, love, deeds, words, books—for colors, forms,
For all the brave strong men—devoted, hardy men—who’ve forward sprung in freedom’s help, all years, all lands,
For braver, stronger, more devoted men—(a special laurel ere I
go, to life’s war’s chosen ones,
The cannoneers of song and thought—the great artillerists—the
foremost leaders, captains of the soul:)
As soldier from an ended war return’d—As traveler out of
myriads, to the long procession retrospective,
Thanks—joyful thanks!—a soldier’s, traveler’s thanks.

— Walt Whitman



Thanks (writes the poet) for precious ever-lingering memories

of parents, family, friends

they make life precious.

And, from an exchange I had with a friend from the past yesterday:


How many siblings were there including you? [Our parents were close. We were from different towns and didn’t know one another well.]


I’m #2 of 7

J—- #1 and S—- #3 are dead.


very sad

about your brothers


Yes. But at least I had them in my life! …

Not sure if I’d be able to get out of bed if I thought it was a anything but a blessing to have had them, however briefly.



Her words struck me. It may seem obvious. But my friend, their sister, puts it so well. I can hear Walt Whitman saying the same thing.

We mourn the dead. We were blessed to have had them. (I think of my parents, and so many others.)

Yes, existence in the here and now matters. But just as our life, everyone’s, our existence, is a miracle — people on earth — so was the existence of those no longer living: that they did live; and, in the case of our loved ones and friends, were part of our existence.


— Roger W. Smith

  February 27, 2023

Staten Island beach walks


Sea-cabbage; salt hay; sea-rushes; ooze–sea-ooze; gluten–sea-gluten; sea­-scum; spawn; surf; beach; salt-perfume; mud; sound of walking barefoot ankle in the edge of the water by the sea. — Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman: Notebooks and Unpublished Prose Manuscripts, Volume IV: Notes, edited by Edward F. Grier (New York University Press 1984), pg. 1309


photographs by Roger W. Smith


— posted by Roger W. Smith

   February 2023

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


… 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

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