A Happy Hour’s Command
by Walt Whitman
Down in the Woods, July 2d, 1882.-If I do it at all I must delay no longer. Incongruous and full of skips and jumps as is that huddle of diary-jottings, war-memoranda of 1862-’65, Nature-notes of 1877-’81, with Western and Canadian observations afterwards, all bundled up and tied by a big string, the resolution and indeed mandate comes to me this day, this hour,—(and what a day!
What an hour just passing! the luxury of riant grass and blowing breeze, with all the shows of sun and sky and perfect temperature, never before so filling me, body and soul),—to go home, untie the bundle, reel out diary-scraps and memoranda, just as they are, large or small, one after another, into print-pages, and let the melange’s lackings and wants of connection take care of themselves. It will illustrate one phase of humanity anyhow; how few of life’s days and hours (and they not by relative value or proportion, but by chance) are ever noted.
Probably another point, too, how we give long preparations for some object, planning and delving and fashioning, and then, when the actual hour for doing arrives, find ourselves still quite unprepared, and tumble the thing together, letting hurry and crudeness tell the story better than fine work. At
any rate I obey my happy hour’s command, which seems curiously imperative. May be, if I don’t do anything else, I shall send out the most wayward, spontaneous, fragmentary book ever printed.