How The Bleeding Hearts Thrived

Duluth, Minnesota

Duluth was far across the blue waters of the lake in the hills of Minnesota. A wonderful thing had happened to him there.

Ernest Hemingway, The Torrents of Spring

The Angel of Duluth (An Excerpt)

by Madelon Sprengnether

I lied a little. There are things I don’t want to tell you. How lonely I am today and sick at heart. How the rain falls steadily and cold on a garden grown greener, more lush and even less tame. I haven’t done much, I confess, to contain it. The grapevine, as usual, threatens everything in its path, while the raspberry canes, aggressive and abundant, are clearly out of control. I’m afraid the wildflowers have taken over, being after all the most hardy and tolerant of shade and neglect. This year the violets and lilies of the valley are rampant, while the phlox are about to emit their shocking pink perfume. Oh, my dear, had you been here this spring, you would have seen how the bleeding hearts are thriving.

Awhile back in an earlier blog entry I posed the question of whether there were any known poetic forgeries, where an anonymous writer wrote a poem and attempted to pass it off as the work of another famous writer fraudulently.   I came across an example of one this week, a poem that originally was claimed to be in a letter from Walt Whitman that was written to a friend following a visit to Duluth, Minnesota, shortly before Whitman’s death.   The poem was picked up in several newspaper articles as part of tributes to Whitman and for a while held some legitimacy as a previously un-published poem by Whitman.  But when historians applied a little common sense while investigating the authenticity of the poem, (and the fact the poem is likely the worst thing Whitman ever wrote), they discovered the so-called Whitman letter was signed Mendax, which means liar in latin.  All in all, knowing its a forgery actually makes it more entertaining in my book, as it’s not a poem I would include of Whitman’s otherwise, but as a farce, its kind of fun. 

Has anyone else come across any examples of poetic forgeries?



by Walt Whitman-ish (Mendax)

The nations hear thy message
A fateful word; oh momentous
Audition! The murmur of waves
Bearing heavy-freighted argosies; the sigh
Of gently stirring life in the birth-beds
Of not oer-distant grain field; the
Solemn plaint of pines whose limbs
Quite feel the bite of men’s
Omnivorous axe; the roar, like
Old Enceladus’s, of furnaces volcanic
And Hell-like; the thunderous and
Reverberant iteration
Of hammers striking the uncomplaining
These are all in thy voice,
To what end? Because thou sing’s
Of empire and the great To-Come,
General good, Democracy, the
Return at length to things primeval
And, therefore, real and true
And worth returning unto.
Then sing, Duluth, thy
Song; and listen,
Or it will repent ye
When the bridegroom cometh.

Published by

A Sonnet Obsession

I am a life-long Minnesotan who resides in Minneapolis. I hope you enjoy my curated selection of sonnets, short poems and nerdy ruminations. I am pleased to offer Fourteenlines as an ad and cookie free poetry resource, to allow the poetry to be presented on its own without distractions. Fourteenlines is a testament to the power of the written word, for anyone wanting a little more poetry in their life.

5 thoughts on “How The Bleeding Hearts Thrived”

  1. that’s interesting, I have just been watching documentaries on art forgeries then this comes up, must be really hard to forge poetry, I bet there are more forged paintings than there are poetry


  2. Good grief. That forged poems is one of the worst poems I’ve ever read, and nothing like Whitman at all. It’s a lousy forgery, and it’s not even good mockery. Fun post!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s