Tuesday, August 01, 2006


"One description of Whitman's manner of composing is to be found in a note which Harrison S. Morris made on 8 June 1887, right after he had visited Whitman for the first time at Camden. He found the poet sitting on the steps of his house turning around a loop of string which held together various scraps of paper, as a key-ring holds keys. When Morris asked him what this contrivance might be, Whitman answered him that it was a 'piece' in the process of being composed. These scraps when finally arranged would be pasted together. He used the inside of envelopes, the backs of letters that came from autograph-seekers, even the 'back of scraps of wall-paper,' anything at all that he could lay hands on--and always he wrote with a big pencil or pen, feeling that a fine point would cramp his style."

--Phyllis Bartlett, Poems in Process

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