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"Echoing the eugenics of his time, Whitman proposes to ‘make the most splendid race the sun ever shone upon.’ This program involves the poet’s ‘robust’ ‘manly love,’ a spiritual breeding of the new democracy ‘anneal’d’ into the ‘living union,’ proposed in Democratic Vistas (1871). . . . [T]he implications of ‘manly love’ are complex. From Richard Maurice Bucke’s defense of this feeling as strictly fraternal, to James Miller’s insistence that it is a sublimated homoeroticism, to Betsy Erkkila’s proposition that it involves a ‘homosexual republic,’ critics circumvent and circumscribe the question as their views dictate. With characteristic circumspection, Whitman will say only that the main message of ‘Calamus’ is in its ‘political significance.’"