Symonds to Whitman, 140 years ago today:
I have pored for continuous hours over the pages of Calamus (as I used to pore over the pages of Plato), longing to hear you speak, burning for a revelation of your more developed meaning, panting to ask–is this what you would indicate?–Are then the free men of your lands really so pure & loving & noble & generous & sincere? Most of all did I desire to hear from your own lips–or from your pen–some story of athletic friendship from which to learn the truth. Yet I dared not to address you or dreamed that the thoughts of a student could abide the inevitable shafts of your searching intuition.
Shall I ever be permitted to question you & learn from you?
What the love of man for man has been in the Past I think I know. What it is here now, I know also–alas! What you say it can & shall be I dimly discern in your Poems. But this hardly satisfies me–so desirous am I of learning what you teach. Some day, perhaps–in some form, I know not what, but in your own chosen form–you will tell me more about the Love of Friends! Till then I wait. Meanwhile you have told me more than anyone beside.–
Thesis Day: 55 days and counting down!