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December 1964

Walt Whitman And His Doctors

Author Affiliations


Doctor of Literature, Albion College; Doctor of Humane Letters, Southern Illinois University; Doctor of Humanities, Wayne State University.

Arch Intern Med. 1964;114(6):834-842. doi:10.1001/archinte.1964.03860120146019

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Knowing of my years of study of Walt Whitman and of my extensive Whitman collection, medical educators have invited me to speak to physicians and undergraduate medical students on various aspect of the poet's health interests. Undoubtedly his uniquely American voicing of individualism, of universal acceptance, has endeared "the good gray poet" to every MD whose professional base is the individual variant,

I swear nothing is good to me now that ignores individuals,

The American compact is altogether with individuals,

The only government is that which makes minute of individuals,

The whole theory of the universe is directly unerringly to one single individual—namely to You.

Also worthy of every physician's special notice is Whitman's sustained interest in medical helpfulness, particularly ever since the onset of his own need for medical treatment beginning with his self-imposed nursing of sick and wounded Civil War service men. Of his military hospital responsibility as

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