Magazine September 9, 2019, Issue

Letters

Walt Whitman in 1887 (Library of Congress)

O Whitman! Whose Whitman?

Sarah Ruden’s piece on Walt Whitman (“Song for Himself,” August 26) is a tour de force of searing prose, and it reveals Ms. Ruden’s wide-ranging knowledge of American poetry; but her philippic shows little serious engagement with Whitman’s actual writing, even seeming to confuse his poem “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking” (about a mockingbird who loses his mate) with his magnificent elegy for Lincoln, “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d.”

The essay lapses at times into the character assassination and self-righteous outrage so prevalent in our public discourse. Ms. Ruden makes much of Whitman’s documented participation

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What We Love About America

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American Men

American men — with few exceptions — treat you like a human being, in a free, natural way, because they’ve done it from the nation’s youth.

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