black holes and gray matter. in one thousand tangos.

Mark Twain's beautiful letter to Walt Whitman on his 70th birthday, May 1889


Hartford, May 24/89

To Walt Whitman:

You have lived just the seventy years which are greatest in the world’s history & richest in benefit & advancement to its peoples. These seventy years have done much more to widen the interval between man & the other animals than was accomplished by any five centuries which preceded them.

What great births you have witnessed! The steam press, the steamship, the steel ship, the railroad, the perfected cotton-gin, the telegraph, the phonograph, the photograph, photo-gravure, the electrotype, the gaslight, the electric light, the sewing machine, & the amazing, infinitely varied & innumerable products of coal tar, those latest & strangest marvels of a marvelous age. And you have seen even greater births than these; for you have seen the application of anesthesia to surgery-practice, whereby the ancient dominion of pain, which began with the first created life, came to an end in this earth forever; you have seen the slave set free, you have seen the monarchy banished from France, & reduced in England to a machine which makes an imposing show of diligence & attention to business, but isn’t connected with the works. Yes, you have indeed seen much — but tarry yet a while, for the greatest is yet to come. Wait thirty years, & then look out over the earth! You shall see marvels upon marvels added to these whose nativity you have witnessed; & conspicuous above them you shall see their formidable Result — Man at almost his full stature at last! — & still growing, visibly growing while you look. In that day, who that hath a throne, or a gilded privilege not attainable by his neighbor, let him procure his slippers & get ready to dance, for there is going to be music. Abide, & see these things! Thirty of us who honor & love you, offer the opportunity. We have among us 600 years, good & sound, left in the bank of life. Take 30 of them — the richest birth-day gift ever offered to poet in this world — & sit down & wait. Wait till you see that great figure appear, & catch the far glint of the sun upon his banner; then you may depart satisfied, as knowing you have seen him for whom the earth was made, & that he will proclaim that human wheat is more than human tares, & proceed to organize human values on that basis.

Mark Twain

/ Show
  1. plotinusplinlimmon reblogged this from motherjones
  2. emilywritegood reblogged this from motherjones
  3. lychen-laut reblogged this from motherjones
  4. kerasean2013 reblogged this from joshuanguyen
  5. freemarketliberal reblogged this from kateoplis
  6. merchgwirion reblogged this from motherjones
  7. sckyy reblogged this from flavorpill
  8. lastdetail reblogged this from kateoplis
  9. rachelbroom reblogged this from thespaghettibrain
  10. thespaghettibrain reblogged this from washingtonpoststyle
  11. duanium reblogged this from motherjones
  12. l0rd-of-misrule reblogged this from tatteredcover and added:
    a great letter from one of my favorite authors to my favorite poet
  13. samanthaaajon reblogged this from ootnaboot and added:
    Mark Twain’s beautiful letter to Walt Whitman on his 70th birthday, May 1889
  14. kebebetsehaye reblogged this from tatteredcover
  15. harleenlikes reblogged this from tenille
  16. tenille reblogged this from tatteredcover
  17. kateoplis posted this
blog comments powered by Disqus
©2011 Kateoplis