Carl Sandburg: Walt Whitman "Strolls In and Out of the Pages Regularly" of His Lincoln Biography

October 12, 1938

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Carl Sandburg: Walt Whitman "Strolls In and Out of the Pages Regularly" of His Lincoln Biography
Typed Letter Signed
1 page | SMC 1110

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      Background

      No poet writing about Lincoln could resist bringing Walt Whitman into the story – and Sandburg says here, he didn’t. In his just finished monumental 4-volume Abraham Lincoln: The War Years, Sandburg admits that “Old Walt strolls in and out of the pages regularly.” This of course was because the greatest poet of his era, Whitman, and the greatest figure on the American scene, Lincoln, not only shared a deep democratic vision, but wrote and spoke words which profoundly influenced one another. “Lincoln is particularly my man,” Whitman declared, “and by the same token, I am Lincoln’s man.” And Lincoln, for his part, thought Leaves of Grass virile, fresh, and the harbinger of a new school of poetry. In Washington, they knew each other by sight, well enough to bow cordially, and exchange the odd, pleasant word in passing. The President, it is said, drew solace from Whitman’s large and benevolent look; and Whitman, all the time looking at Lincoln, studying him, loving him, the sweetest and wisest soul, he said, of all his days and lands.  But Morris Lychenheim, a Jewish osteopath in Chicago, knew all this – and more. He was, in 1938, one of Whitman’s last surviving friends.


      Typed Letter Signed, 1 page, on a duodecimo postcard, Harbert, Michigan, October 12, 1938. To Dr. Morris Lychenheim in Chicago.
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      Harbert Oct 12  38

      Friend Lychenheim

      Not until lately have I begun to catch up on my mail. You understand, I am sure, that in May when I failed to answer your good letter it was because of the pressure of several other committments [sic], particularly the work on Lincoln of th[e] War Years where Old Walt strolls in and out of the pages regularly. With kindest regards

      As always

      CARL SANDBURG

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      Page 2 transcript

      Dr. Morris Lychenheim
      2030 Touhy Ave.
      Chicago, Ill.