HAROLD W. BLODGETT
EVEN before the first twelve poems of Leaves of Grass appeared in print on or about the 4th of July, 1855, Walt Whitman had probably begun composing trial passages for the new poems of his next edition. A favorite means to this end were his improvised notebooks of various sizes which he carried about in his pockets 'sometimes half a dozen at one time,' as he once told Horace Traubel. 1 Just how many there were is impossible to determine, but among those now known to exist, the following notebook is manifestly of exceptional value.
In it are entered many lines for poems of the second edition, notably 'Sun-Down Poem' ( 'Crossing Brooklyn Ferry'), as well as jottings for lectures, notes of purpose and reference, names and addresses, and--interestingly!--the salute from Emerson's famous letter which the poet was to place on the backstrip of the 1856 Leaves of Grass.
Internal evidence suggests that most of the entries were made between July 1855 and September 1856. 2 Counting the inside front