Spring 1990 • Vol. XII No. 2 |

‘. . . Observing a Spear of Summer Grass’

"Outlines!"     Song of Myself 1 There are fastidious writers, writers who carefully preserve all their drafts, who so hate the untidiness of crossing out that they always start over again with a satisfyingly clean sheet, who compose in soft, grainy, leather-bound notebooks and journals, the kind you purchase from fashionable London or Italian stationers. Walt Whitman was not one of these. Paper was paper. He scribbled and scrawled and scratched away on anything he could lay his hands on—loose slips, stray sheets of all shapes and sizes, pink paper, yellow paper, green paper, paper already torn, odd scraps pasted together, old tax forms, the backs of letters and envelopes, pages ripped out of books, the backs of receipts and bills, the backs even of leaves of wallpaper. Here's how the editors of the most comprehensive text of Whitman's poems describe portions of his manuscript: "A single page of MS may be written on as many as six or seven strips of paper pasted tog

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The Life of the City

By Kenneth Koch

"Outlines!"     Song of Myself 1 There are fastidious writers, writers who carefully preserve all their drafts, who so hate the untidiness of crossing out that they always start over again […]

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