Interviews and Reminiscences

About this Item

Title: Whitman Will Not Answer

Creator: Anonymous

Date: August 11, 1887

Whitman Archive ID: med.00599

Source: The New-York Times 11 August 1887: 1. Our transcription is based on a digital image of a microfilm copy of an original issue. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the interviews, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Brett Barney, Nic Swiercek, and Shea Montgomerey

image 1



—Walt Whitman sat in the dining room of his modest two-story frame cottage in Camden to-day and looked over a newspaper clipping giving a synopsis of Swinburne's savage attack on him in the current number of the Fortnightly. Swinburne says Whitman is no poet, and his "Eve" is a drunken applewoman, indecently sprawling in the slush and garbage of the gutter, amid the rotten refuse of her overturned fruit stall, and his "Venus" a Hottentot wench under the influence of cantharides and adultered rum.The gay poet said he was surprised at this outburst of the gifted Englishman, and he couldn't understand it. Before passing final judgment on it he was waiting to read the article in the Fortnightly. He did not intend to reply to Swinburne. The editors of the North American Review had sent him three dispatches, urgently requesting an article in reply for their next number, but he had positively declined to furnish it, and he had nothing to say for publication.

The venerable bard lives very quietly, and is bright and cheerful despite his infirmities, which prevent him from walking much. He has many visitors, and his door is always open. The children all salute him as they pass his house to and from school, and he likes to chat with the little ones.


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