After more than 150 years of being lost, a 13 part series in Manly Health and Training written by the great US poet, Walt Whitman under a pseudonym (Mose Velsor) for a New York Newspaper in 1858 has been discovered and is being published online; The Walt Whitman Quarterly Review.

It contains several health tips on topics such as diet, sex, and hygiene. The great poet deals with almost everything health issue from “care of the feet” to attainment of a “nobler physique”. Surprisingly, these tips sound modern, as if they were written yesterday.

It was discovered in a digitised newspaper database by a graduate student last year. Zachary Turpin the graduate student who discovered it said: “When I started investigating, I was completely unaware that such a series might exist. Scholars have long known that, among his mountains of notebook jottings and unpublished manuscripts, Whitman had scribbled out a pair of handwritten advertisements for a ‘first-class Original Work on Manly Training’. But whether or not such a thing had ever come to be, no one knew. It took about a day and a night for it to really hit me hard just what this was, in essence: a lost book, and a most unusual one, by Walt Whitman himself.”

Some of his tips include:
1. Let the main part of the diet be meat, to the exclusion of all
2. General use of the comfortable shoes worn by base-ball players back then. Trainers, is what we simply call them today.
3. He also urged men to grow beards, which, he claimed, provide “great sanitary protection to the throat – for purposes of health it should always be worn, just as much as the hair of the head should be.” Funny how everyone is hopping on the beard gang bandwagon these days.

Ed Folsom, editor of The Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, told the New York Times that some of the journalism echoes the themes of self-improvement and homo-erotic love that are central to the poet’s work. In the journal, Turpin says the work can be seen as “an essay on male beauty, a chauvinistic screed, a sports memoir, a eugenics manifesto, a description of New York daily life, an anecdotal history of longevity, or a pseudoscientific tract”, and warns that it can be “eyebrow-raising”

Walter “Walt” Whitman was an American poet, essayist and journalist. He is among the most influential poets in the American canon, often called the father of free verse. His work was very controversial in its time, particularly his poetry collection “Leaves of Grass”, which was described as obscene for its overt sexuality.

Author: Ope Adedeji