in "Leaves of Grass". The poems to which objection could be taken, don't constitute five per cent of the book and my objection to them is that in any normal man, love and desire take up a much larger proportion of life than five per cent. Moreover the expression of passion is tame in the extreme: nothing in the "Leaves of Grass" can compare with half a dozen passages in the Song of Solomon: think of the following verse:
"I sleep but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew and my locks with the drops of the night . . . .
"My beloved put his hand in by the hole of the door and my bowels were moved for him."
And then the phrases: "her lips are like a thread of scarlet" . . . . "her love like an army with banners"; but American puritanism is more timid even than its purblind teachers.
It was commonly said at the time that Whitman had led a life of extraordinary self-indulgence: rumor attributed to him half a dozen illegitimate children and perverse tastes to boot. I think such statements exaggerated or worse: they are no more to be trusted than the stories of Paine's drunkenness. At any rate, Horace Traubel later declared to me that Whitman's life was singularly clean and his own letter to John Addington Symonds must be held to have disproved the charge of homo-sexuality. But I dare swear he loved more than once not wisely but too well, or he would not have risked the reprobation of the "unco guid". In any case, it is to his honor that he dared to write plainly in America of the joys of sexual intercourse. Emerson, as Whitman himself tells us, did his utmost all one long afternoon to dissuade him from