By Walt Whitman (1888)
A lesser proof than old Voltaire’s,* yet greater,
Proof of this present time, and thee, they broad expanse,
To my plain Northern hut, in outside clouds and snow,
Brought safely for a thousand miles o’er land and tide,
Some three days since on their own soil live-sprouting,
Now here their sweetness through my room unfolding,
A bunch of orange buds by mail from Florida.
*Voltaire closed a famous argument by claiming that a ship of war and the grand opera were proofs enough of civilization’s and France’s progress, in his day. Jones, Jane Anderson, and Maurice O’Sullivan, Maurice, eds. Florida in Poetry: A History of the Imagination, Pineapple Press, Inc. 1995. 2.
Ibid. The enormous growth of railroads in Florida during the last decades of the 19th century began to link the state far more tightly with the Northeast. Marveling over one simple result of that growth, Walt Whitman believed such technology could enrich urban America’s experience of nature.