This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 experiences to the Brooklyn Eagle and Union and the New York Times. 1 To supply the little comforts and necessities of the hundred thousand soldiers, Northern and Southern, to whom, as he estimated, he ministered courage and cheer, he privately raised several thousand dollars from friends and correspondents in the North. When he obtained a salaried position in 1865, a generous portion of his earnings went into the same fund. But chiefly he gave himself, in undisguised affection. The full tenderness, almost motherliness, of this large-hearted, self-sacrificing man can be fully understood only in the modest but realistic account of his daily activities preserved in the letters written to his mother at the time and in the hospital-notebook jottings printed in Specimen days. It would be a questionable service to Whitman to affirm that these three years of slow martyrdom sanctified the whole of his life; but it is literally true that the deepest and best instincts in him never before had found such full and beautiful expression. Partly, at least, as a result of his hospital service his magnificent health was lost, and the last twenty years of his life were those of a paralytic cripple. Whitman's poetic power was still at its height. Drum-Taps, —the poetic complement to Specimen days and The Wound-Dresser,—a booklet charged with the pathos and the spirituality of the war, was published in 1865, with the profoundly moving dirge for the martyred Lincoln. In Democratic Vistas (1871) he made use of prose, though with unequal success. This period was also important because of the friendships that it made or fostered. Perhaps the most important was that with William Douglas O'Connor. When, in 1865, Whitman had been employed for several months in the Interior Department under Secretary Harlan, the latter, on learning that he was the author of Leaves of Grass, had him summarily dismissed; then O'Connor came to his friend's defence in a brilliant and passionate, though ill-advised, polemic, The good Gray poet, the title of which gave the bard a fit and enduring sobriquet. The advertising value of such a polemic, or of such an incident, though it was rated highly by Whitman and by some of his friends, may now be questioned. Thanks to such
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.