Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The following abridged account of the last days of the American poet, Horace

From Death-Bed Visions - The Psychical Experiences of the Dying by Sir William Barrett, Chapter 3 Visions seen by the Dying of Persons known by them to be Dead, and Death-Bed Visions seen by Others

The following abridged account of the last days of the American poet, Horace Traubel, is taken from a fuller narrative in the American S.P.R. "Journal" for 1921 (Vol. XV, pp. 114-123).

Horace Traubel (1858-1919) was the Boswell of Walt Whitman; he was also author of a number of volumes of poems of the Whitman type, which some of his own disciples regard as equalling those of his master. He was also the founder of the well-known Contemporary Club of Philadelphia.

The abridged account was contributed by Mrs. Flora Macdonald Denison, who was present at the death-bed, to the April-May issue of a Magazine entitled, "The Sunset of Bon Echo," as follows:

"All day on August 28th Horace was very low spirited. Anne's illness and the going of the Bains was too much for him. Mildred was with him a good deal and we decided not to leave him a minute. He had been brought in from the veranda but absolutely radiant, and on seeing me, he called out, 'Look, look, Flora, quick, quick, he is going.' 'What, Horace,' I said, 'what do you see? I cannot see anyone.' 'Why just over the rock Walt appeared, head and shoulders and hat on in a golden glory - brilliant and splendid. He reassured me-beckoned to me, and spoke to me. I heard his voice but did not understand all, he said, only "Come on."'

"Frank Bain soon came in and he repeated the story to him. All the rest of the evening Horace was uplifted and happy. So often Horace would say, 'Do not despise me for my weakness,' but now he was quite confident, even jocular, as I handed him a drink.

"On the night of September 3rd Horace was very low. I stayed for a few hours with him. Once his eyes rolled; I thought he was dying, but he just wanted me to turn him. As I did so, he listened and seemed to hear something. Then he said, 'I hear Walt's voice, he is talking to me.' I said, 'What does he say? 'He said, 'Walt says, "Come on, come on." 'After a time he said, 'Flora, I see them all about me, Bob and Bucke and Walt and the rest.'

"Colonel Cosgrave had been with Horace in the afternoon and had seen Walt on the opposite side of the bed, and felt his presence. Then Walt passed through the bed and touched the Colonel's hand, which was in his pocket. The contact was like an electric shock. Horace was also aware of Walt's visible presence and said so. There was no gloom about the house. No one seemed depressed. A feeling of triumph, of pride, and of exultation permeated the atmosphere."