Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman

Excerpt

More than a generation has passed since Walt Whitman died. The time is come when more and more the attempt will be made, and may hopefully be made, to estimate his permanent place among the writers of the English language. I do not say, I do not think, that the time has yet come for registering a verdict that can confidently expect to stand without fearing serious modification in the future. It will come, no doubt. To suppose that such verdicts are not attained or attainable is only a piece of the curious intellectual anarchy of our time. The truth is that literary judgements have proved themselves at least as stable as those of history or politics, philosophy or science. No one who is capable of forming an opinion on such questions supposes that there can ever again be any serious question about the poetic rank of Aeschylus or Dante or Shakespeare or Milton. Indeed such doubts as have arisen in the past have commonly been due either to ignorance of the poet's language, as in the case of Shakespeare, or to reactions and prejudices unconnected with literature, as in the case of Dante. In each case the literary judgement formed immediately or within a generation by those best competent to . . .

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