General Series Editors: Gay Wilson Allen and Sculley Bradley
Originally published between 1961 and 1984, and now available in paperback for the first time, the critically acclaimed Collected Writings of Walt Whitman captures every facet of one of America’s most important poets.
In discussing letter-writing, Whitman made his own views clear. Simplicity and naturalness were his guidelines. “I like my letters to be personal—very personal—and then stop.” The six volumes in The Correspondence comprise nearly 3,000 letters written over a half century, revealing Whitman the person as no other documents can.
Volume I includes the poet’s correspondence from Washington, DC, during the Civil War, where he nursed wounded and dying soldiers. In letters to his mother, Whitman describes the suffering and sorrow he encountered in unsanitary hospitals. He wrote to the parents of soldiers and offered hope—or consolation at the loss of an unsung hero. Soldiers who recovered and left the hospitals often wrote to Whitman, and he replied with friendly advice and paternal solicitude. As Whitman himself admitted, rarely was his heart so engaged as in these hospital scenes and war letters, which, like his greatest poems, reflect his characteristic themes—love and death.