Horace Traubel selected the following quotations from his conversations with Walt Whitman as epigraphs for the three volumes he published in his own lifetime:
"Be sure to write about me honest: whatever you do do not prettify me: include all the hells and damns."
"It won't be long and I will be dead and gone: then they will hale you into court--put you into the witness box--ply you with questions--try to mix you up with questions: this Walt Whitman--this scamp poet--this arch-pretender--what did you make him out to be? and you will have to answer--and be sure you answer honest, so help you God!"
"You'll be speaking for me many a time after I am dead: do not be afraid to tell the truth--any sort of truth good or bad, for or against: only be afraid not to tell the truth."
"I want you to be in possession of data which will equip you after I am gone for making statements, that sort of thing, when necessary. I can't sit down offhand and dictate the story to you, but I can talk with you and give you the documentary evidence here and there, adding a little every day, so as to finally graduate you for the job."
. . . . . .
"I don't choose you as a biographer: or anything of that sort--as an authority for this or that: that woud n't be an honor, it would only be a burden, to you: no, not that: I only in a sense put certain materials in your hands to use at discretion."
. . . . . .
"I am disposed to trust myself more and more to your younger body and spirit, knowing, as I do, that you love me, that you will not betray me--more than that (and in a way better than that) that you understand me and can be depended upon to represent me not only vehemently but with authority."