Sunteți pe pagina 1din 1

Walt Whitman Reflects on Elmina Slenker and on Some Homophobic Encounters

Sunday, August 5, 1888. With Walt Whitman in Camden, Volume 2, 92.

Letter from Elmina Slenker today. "She is in Virginiahas read some of the highly-colored reports in the papersis afraid that I'm pegging outso writes me, wishing me well in the most friendly fashion. I am inclined to be agreeably impressed she seems interested and interesting. She approaches me freelyis an aged womanshe has given much time to the study of sexual matters (sees a hint in that direction in Leaves of Grass): she has done her work, her good work, and is now hale, placid, companionable, in every way rounded, on all sides. The old woman is always the best woman, certain other things being equal." Again W. said: "It is curious, what are people's likes and dislikeshow their hates appear and remain, as well as their loves. You will find one man who hates another worse than the devil, exhibiting almost a snake-like poisonous antipathy, and yet can give no reason for it, has no reason for it simply knows he feels it, that is all. I have myself been the victim of such humors in the human critterrepeatedly the victimso that nowadays I attach very little significance to the phenomenon. A man came to me in Washington once and said: 'Walt Whitman, I hate myself for hating you, but I hate you!' I assumed at first that he was joking but he would not let it go that way. 'It's no joke, no mistake,' he said, 'somehow there's something in you, in your work, to excite me to a fierce animosity: I don't like it, but it exists.' Wasn't that a touch of psychology for the initiated? I never quite made it out myself."