Thursday, August 16, 2012

Quote of the Day (Walt Whitman, on the Dog Days of Summer, 1880s NY)

August [1881].—In the big city awhile. Even [in] the height of the dog-days, there is a good deal of fun about New York, if you only avoid fluster, and take all the buoyant wholesomeness that offers. More comfort, too, than most folks think. A middle-aged man, with plenty of money in his pocket, tells me that he has been off for a month to all the swell places, has disburs’d a small fortune, has been hot and out of kilter everywhere, and has return’d home and lived in New York city the last two weeks quite contented and happy. People forget when it is hot here, it is generally hotter still in other places. New York is so situated, with the great ozonic brine on both sides, it comprises the most favorable health-chances in the world. (If only the suffocating crowding of some of its tenement houses could be broken up.) I find I never sufficiently realized how beautiful are the upper two-thirds of Manhattan island. I am stopping at Mott Haven, and have been familiar now for ten days with the region above One-hundredth street, and along the Harlem river and Washington heights. Am dwelling a few days with my friends, Mr. and Mrs. J.H.J., and a merry housefull of young ladies. Am putting the last touches on the printer’s copy of my new volume of ‘Leaves of Grass’—the completed book at last. Work at it two or three hours, and then go down and loaf along the Harlem river; have just had a good spell of this recreation. The sun sufficiently veil’d, a soft south breeze, the river full of small or large shells (light taper boats) darting up and down, some singly, now and then long ones with six or eight young fellows practicing—very inspiriting sights. Two fine yachts lie anchor’d off the shore. I linger long, enjoying the sundown, the glow, the streak’d sky, the heights, distances, shadows.”—Walt Whitman, Specimen Days and Collect (1882)

1 comment:

John the Cat said...

Sound like NYC was a small town back then.