Dinner with Walt

all things Walt Whitman

Dinner with Walt - all things Walt Whitman

Horace Traubel Birthday!

Today, December 19, 2014, marks the 156th birthday of the close personal friend and Whitman biographer, Horace Traubel. I would like to share a poem befitting of this occasion, written by Traubel himself on the dedication page to his 1904 book, Chants Communal.

Worn with the burdens of rebellious years,
Across the sea’s scan matching birth with death,
Like ships sky-sailed that earthward come no more,
Love’s dreams must vanish down the edge of sight,
All spent ahead where life will follow-on:
Celestial children, soon beyond my reach,
Entering the unseen port to wait for me.


In Whitman’s own words, here’s a birthday greeting that Whitman wished to Traubel on December 19, 1888:

“I don’t congratulate you—I congratulate myself, others: if you were as lucky as I was in your birth then you must feel rich indeed! Here’s love for all the rest of your birthdays!”


In remembrance of Horace Traubel and with sincere gratitude for his enormous contributions to further the love and legacy of Walt Whitman –
Happy Birthday!


Links to previous articles on Horace Traubel:

Horace Traubel
Handwritten Letter from Horace Traubel
David Karsner’s Biography on Horace Traubel
A December 19th Birthday
Happy 155th Birthday to Horace Traubel: A Helen Keller Tribute
Horace Traubel Grave


Traubel Portrait: Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Traubel, Horace. (1904). Chants Communal. New York: Albert and Charles Boni.
Traubel, Horace. (1914). With Walt Whitman in Camden, Volume Three. (p. 332). New York: Mitchell Kennerley.



A Backward Glance O’er Travel’d Roads

While I can not understand it or argue it out, I fully believe in a clue and purpose in Nature, entire and several; and that invisible spiritual results, just as real and definite as the visible, eventuate all concrete life and all materialism, through Time.


The Contralto

So with apologies, I’ve been absent from the site a bit, but I can assure you, I have not been absent of Whitman! With much thanks to Whitman, I’ve discovered the contralto voice! This is a giant step for me, having never been interested in anything with the opera, whatsoever.  But I am happy to discover a new infatuation with the opera, in particular the contralto voice.

In Whitman’s time, Marietta Alboni was the contralto.  In fact, she is widely considered to be the best contralto ever.  You can be certain I’ll share more about Marietta Alboni in future posts. In Whitman’s own words, “Alboni had a big influence on me, on Leaves of Grass, without her, there would be no Leaves of Grass.”

Unfortunately, no recordings survive of Marietta Alboni’s voice.  But one great modern day contralto I have discovered (ok, two great modern day contralto’s) are Ewa Podles and Marijana Mijanovic.

There is a definite and distinct difference in their vocal range.  Ewa has a deeper and more mature sound than Marijana.  But I have come to realize a deep appreciation for them both!

Take a listen…

Ewa Podles


Marijana Mijanovic





Color Photography – It Can’t Be Possible!?!

If you’ve read the post, About This Site, you may recall where I speculate how Walt might be amazed to see all the technological changes that have occurred in the past 120 years since his death. I found an interesting passage today in With Walt Whitman in Camden that hits on this thought exactly!


In June of 1888, Walt was discussing with Traubel the possibility of color photography and doubts it could ever be a reality. Walt says:



Traubel, Horace. (1906). With Walt Whitman in Camden (March 28 – July 14, 1888). Boston: Small, Maynard & Company. pp.283.