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1. See “Death of Abraham Lincoln,” in Walt Whitman: Complete Poetry and Collected Prose, ed. Justin Kaplan (New York: Literary Classics of the United States, 1982), p. 1041. Lilacs were also in full bloom in Washington outside the Peterson House where Lincoln was taken after the shooting. For a detailed ac-count of these and other historical matters, see Dorothy Meserve Kunhardt and Philip B. Kunhardt, Twenty Days: A Narrative in Text and Pictures of the Assas-sination of Abraham Lincoln and the Twenty Days and Nights that Followed—The Nation in Mourning, The Long Trip Home to Springfield (New York: Har-per and Row, 1965). [BACK]

2. Doyle is quoted to this effect in Calamus: A Series of Letters Written dur-ing the Years 1868–1880 by Walt Whitman to a Young Friend (Peter Doyle), ed. Richard Maurice Bucke (Boston: Laurens Maynard, 1897), pp. 25–26. Whit-man had not yet made his acquaintance while writing “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd.” In subsequent correspondence with Whitman, Doyle's love of the theater, including burlesque, is evident. For more on Doyle, see Martin G. Murray, “‘Pete the Great’: A Biography of Peter Doyle,” Walt Whitman Quar-terly Review 12, no. 1 (summer 1994): 1–51. [BACK]

3. Exactly when Whitman first drafted “Lilacs” is unknown. Presumably the

poem was written and rewritten. In mid-September, John Burroughs wrote to his friend Myron Benton, “Walt's book will be out in a week or two. … He is deeply interested in what I tell him of the Hermit Thrush, and says he has used largely the information I have given him in one of his principal poems.” Quoted in Clara Barrus, Whitman and Burroughs: Comrades (Boston: Houghton Mif-flin, 1931), p. 24. Probably the poem had been completed by the end of August. [BACK]

4. Ed Folsom, Walt Whitman's Native Representations (New York: Cam-bridge University Press, 1994), p. 115. [BACK]

5. For an eloquent description of “the specter of a reign of terror in which violence would become the primary means of effecting political change,” see Betsy Erkkila, Whitman the Political Poet (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), p. 227. And on the volume as a whole, see, for example, John Burroughs's claim in “Walt Whitman and His Drum-Taps”: “His aim does not per-mit of the slightest expression of partisan or sectional feeling, or any exultation over a fallen foe” (Galaxy 2 [December 1, 1866]: 128). About “Lilacs,” Burroughs continues: “By that curious indirect method which is always the method of nature, the poet makes no reference to the mere facts of Lincoln's death—nei-ther describes it, or laments it, or dwells upon its unprovoked atrocity, or its po-litical aspects, but quite beyond the possibilities of the art of the ordinary versi-fier, he seizes upon three beautiful facts of nature which he weaves into a wreath for the dead President's tomb” (p. 129). [BACK]

6. Erkkila, Whitman the Political Poet, p. 227. [BACK]

7. A strong reading challenging the usual unified-poem tradition is offered by Kerry C. Larson in Whitman's Drama of Consensus (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), pp. 231–243. He describes multiple, provisional beginnings; a static, nonincremental mode of development; and a centerless point of view. Though I admire Larson's alertness to fragmentation within the poem, his reading distances the poet's emotional and sexual ambivalence toward figures of male authority, whereas I try to use that ambivalence to explain the poet's (and the poem's) strategic omissions. [BACK]

8. Michael Moon, Disseminating Whitman: Revision and Corporeality in “Leaves of Grass” (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991), pp. 217, 218. [BACK]

9. Moon, Disseminating Whitman, p. 218. [BACK]

10. Galway Kinnell, “Whitman's Indicative Words,” in Walt Whitman: Walt Whitman's Autograph Revision of the Analysis of “Leaves of Grass” (For Dr. R. M. Bucke's Walt Whitman), ed. Stephen Railton (New York: New York University Press, 1974), p. 58. [BACK]

11. Christopher Beach, The Politics of Distinction: Whitman and the Discourses of Nineteenth-Century America (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1996), p. 23. See also pp. 99–100, on Whitman's turning away from a discourse “of direct personal and political engagement” as a result of his “firsthand expe-rience of a terribly costly war.” [BACK]

12. Moon, Disseminating Whitman, p. 217. [BACK]

13. In The English Elegy: Studies in the Genre from Spenser to Yeats (Balti-more: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985), p. 316, Peter M. Sacks describes the poem's supposed stylistics of sexual sacrifice. I am indebted to Michael

Moon's rich counterreading for calling this discussion to my attention. See Dis-seminating Whitman, pp. 215–16. [BACK]

14. Robert Leigh Davis, Whitman and the Romance of Medicine (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), p. 71. [BACK]

15. Sacks, English Elegy, p. 317. [BACK]

16. Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1991). [BACK]

17. Charles I. Glicksberg, ed., Walt Whitman and the Civil War (Philadel-phia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1933), p. 174. [BACK]

18. I Sit and Look Out: Editorials from the Brooklyn Daily Times by Walt Whitman, ed. Emory Holloway and Vernolian Schwarz (New York: Columbia University Press, 1932), pp. 96, 98. [BACK]

19. “Death of Abraham Lincoln,” in Complete Poetry and Collected Prose, p. 1039. [BACK]

20. According to Henry B. Rankin, had Whitman only known it, one of his readers was none other than the prepresidential lawyer himself. In Personal Recollections of Abraham Lincoln (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1916), Rankin writes that “Lincoln … who had been … in the unapproachable depths of one of his glum moods … took up Leaves of Grass for his first reading of it. After half an hour or more of devotion to it, he turned back to the first pages and, to our general surprise, began to read aloud. … His rendering revealed a charm of new life in Whitman's versification. Save for a few comments on some broad allusions that Lincoln suggested could have been veiled, or left out, he commended the new poet's verses for their virility, freshness, unconventional sentiments, and unique forms of expression, and claimed that Whitman gave promise of a new school of poetry” (p. 91). Alas, the tale is a hoax, according to William E. Barton. In Abraham Lincoln and Walt Whitman (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1928), Barton claims that Rankin was never one of Lincoln's law clerks (pp. 90–94). For a more neutral and in that sense encouraging reading, see Merrill D. Peter-son, Lincoln in American Memory (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994). [BACK]

21. Dear Brother Walt: The Letters of Thomas Jefferson Whitman, ed. Dennis Berthold and Kenneth M. Price (Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press, 1984), pp. 59, 61. [BACK]

22. Samuel Eliot Morison and Henry Steele Commager, The Growth of the American Republic (New York: Oxford University Press, 1934), p. 613. [BACK]

23. See Mutlu Konuk Blasing, “Whitman's ‘Lilacs’ and the Grammars of Time,” PMLA 97 (January 1982): 31; Kenneth M. Price, Whitman and Tradi-tion: The Poet in His Century (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990), p. 77. On differences between Whitman and Lincoln as the “Beloved Companion,” see Allen Grossman, “The Poetics of Union in Whitman and Lincoln: An Inquiry to-ward the Relationship of Art and Policy,” in The American Renaissance Recon-sidered, ed. Walter Benn Michaels and Donald E. Pease (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1985), pp. 183–208. [BACK]

24. Jahan Ramazani, Poetry of Mourning: The Modern Elegy from Hardy to Heaney (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), p. 219. [BACK]

25. North American Review (1886), reprinted in Barton, Abraham Lincoln 238 Notes to Pages 165–166

and Walt Whitman, pp. 83–89. The essay is also reprinted with the title “Abra-ham Lincoln” in November Boughs, in Complete Poetry and Collected Prose, pp. 1196–99. [BACK]

26. Helen Vendler, “Whitman's ‘When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd,’” in Textual Analysis: Some Readers Reading, ed. Mary Ann Caws (New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1986), pp. 132–143. [BACK]

27. Richard Henry Stoddard, “An Horatian Ode,” in The Praise of Lincoln, ed. A. Dallas Williams (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1911), pp. 102–108. In ad-dition to Whitman, the authors represented in this volume include Thomas Bai-ley Aldrich, William Cullen Bryant, Alice Cary, Phoebe Cary, Rose Terry Cooke, Richard Watson Gilder, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Lucy Larcom, James Russell Lowell, John James Piatt (Whitman's Washington friend), Edmund Clarence Sted-man, Bayard Taylor, John Townsend Trowbridge, Jones Very, and John Green-leaf Whittier. For a study of Lincoln mythology that is a bit dated but still very helpful, see Roy P. Basler,The Lincoln Legend: A Study in Changing Conceptions (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1935). Basler lists other anthologies of Lincolniana. Further, for the kind of material that Whitman censored, see “A Lincoln Remi-niscence,” beginning, “As is well known, story-telling was often with President Lincoln a weapon which he employ'd with great skill” (Complete Poetry and Prose, p. 1072). [BACK]

28. According to Don E. Fehrenbacher, “Serious scholars have applied the word ‘dictator’ more often to Lincoln than to any other president. The list of his presidential actions inspiring such judgments is a rather long one. With Congress, by his arrangement, not in session, he responded to the attack on Fort Sumter by enlarging the army, proclaiming a blockade of Southern ports, sus-pending the writ of habeas corpus in certain areas, authorizing arbitrary arrests and imprisonments on a large scale, and spending public funds without legal warrant. He never yielded the initiative seized at this time, and, in later bold assertions of executive authority, he introduced conscription, proclaimed emanci-pation and inaugurated a program of reconstruction.” See “Lincoln and the Con-stitution,” in The Public and the Private Lincoln: Contemporary Perspectives, ed. Cullom Davis, Charles B. Strozier, Rebecca Monroe Veach, and Geoffrey C. Ward (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1979), p. 127. [BACK]

29. The love letter to the future King Edward VII that Whitman embedded within “Year of Meteors (1859–60)” is possibly the most embarrassing vignette in Leaves of Grass.

Remember you surging Manhattan's crowds, as you passed with your cortege of nobles?

There in the crowds stood I, and singled you out with attachment;

I know not why, but I loved you … (and so go forth little song,

Far over sea speed like an arrow, carrying my love all folded,

And find in his palace the youth I love, and drop these lines at his feet).

(DT 51–52)

See also “A Broadway Pageant” in the same volume (pp. 61–65). [BACK]

30. William Wordsworth, “She dwelt among the untrodden ways” and “Strange fits of passion have I known,” in Poems, Volume I, ed. John O. Hay-den (New York: Penguin Books, 1977), pp. 366–67. [BACK]


31. According to Cathy N. Davidson, “Charlotte Temple became America's first best-selling novel in the earliest years of the Republic, when the fledgling na-tion was yet defining its own cultural and political identity, and it remained a best-seller well into the beginning of the twentieth century and America's ascen-dancy as a world power.” See Susanna Rowson, Charlotte Temple, ed. Cathy N. Davidson (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986), p. xi. [BACK]

32. Four Years in the Confederate Artillery: The Diary of Private Henry Rob-inson Berkeley, ed. William H. Runge (Chapel Hill: University of North Caro-lina Press, 1961), p. 144. [BACK]

33. Vendler sees this passage as an example of Whitman's great delicacy of feeling. She writes, “It is, as the poem says, the living who remain and suffer. Only the dead are excused from suffering, insanity, and the gross inflictions of war. With characteristic delicacy, Whitman puts himself in a minor place in the list of survivors: for each dead soldier ‘the mother suffer'd, / And the wife and child and musing comrade suffer'd / And the armies that remain'd suffer'd.’… The thrice-repeated ‘suffer'd’ is paired inextricably with the twice-repeated ‘re-main'd’ until the two verbs become synonymous: to remain is to suffer” (“Whit-man's ‘Lilacs,’” p. 140). [BACK]

34. Ramazani, Poetry of Mourning, pp. 525–26, 264. [BACK]

35. The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, ed. Roy P. Basler, 9 vols. (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 2:90. The address was deliv-ered at City Hall in Chicago. [BACK]

36. On May 28, 1862, Andrew enlisted as a private in the 13th Regiment, New York State Militia, Heavy Artillery. He was mustered in on June 16, 1862, in Suffolk, Virginia, and served for three months without seeing any serious action. His health declined rapidly after he returned to civilian life in Septem-ber. For more on Andrew Whitman's military status, see Martin G. Murray, “Bunkum Did Go Sogering,” Walt Whitman Quarterly Review 10, no. 3 (win-ter 1993): 142–48. [BACK]

37. Harold Bloom, “Whitman's Image of Voice: To the Tally of My Soul,” in Agon: Towards a Theory of Revisionism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), pp. 179–199. The quoted passages are from pp. 188–190. [BACK]

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