Mar 22, 2018 - Sale 2470

Sale 2470 - Lot 243

Price Realized: $ 20,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 20,000 - $ 30,000
HIS LAST POEM WHITMAN, WALT. Signature and holograph corrections on a secretary's manuscript draft of his poem, "A Thought of Columbus," in blue pencil. Corrections include the addition of a subtitle ("Brought to 1892"), movement of a phrase from the second to the first line, and a few scattered small additions or replacements. Text in the hand of Anne Traubel, with a two-line inscription in upper margin of first page in the hand of Horace Traubel: "Copied by Anne & Horace Traubel & sent with love to Boston, to Anderton, May 27, 1892." 2 pages, 4to, pale yellow paper, written on two sheets; small holes at fold intersections with minor loss to text, short separations at folds with minor loss to text including vertical fold affecting second "W" of signature. [Camden, March 1892]

Additional Details

"The mystery of mysteries, the crude and hurried ceaseless flame, spontaneous, bearing on itself. / The bubble and the huge, round, concrete orb! . . ."
Whitman began the original draft of "A Thought of Columbus" in November of 1891, completing it on his deathbed in March of the following year. Whitman's literary executor, Horace Traubel, had the draft transcribed by his wife and corrected by Whitman during the poet's last days--the present document is this transcription. In his article, "Walt Whitman's Last Poem," Traubel stated that the poem "marks his final deliberate deliverance." Since Whitman marked corrections and added his signature to the transcription after having written and signed the original draft, the manuscript in the present lot represents Whitman's final thoughts on "A Thought of Columbus"--his last poem.
The original holograph draft of "A Thought of Columbus," housed at the LOC in the Walt Whitman papers, was published in facsimile soon after Whitman's death with the headline, "The Good, Gray Poet's Last Verses" (Once a Week, 9 July 1892). It was not, however, the first time the poem appeared in print. Traubel arranged to publish it in the same periodical, set in type, one week earlier. The first appearance reflects the corrections Whitman made to the manuscript in the present lot. Given the jumbled state of the original draft, one could not reasonably have expected an accurate transcription without the final touch of Whitman's hand.