In Whitman's Hand

Poetry Manuscripts

Table of Contents
Color Key

     
[Leaf 1 recto]
[several words illegible]

Osceola

By Walt Whitman
 
[Sent to the Editors?]
 
[When I was I was nearly grown to manhood in Brooklyn New York, ^(middle of 1838) met one of the returned US Marines from Fort Moultrie S.C. and had long talks with him.—learn'd the occurrence here below described—the death of Osceol[o?]a The latter was a ^young, brave, leading Seminole in the Florida war of that time,—was surrender'd to our troops,—was imprison'd and ^literally died of "a broken heart" at Fort Moultrie. He sicken'd of ^his confinement—the doctor and officers w made every allowance ^and kindness possible for him; but his life's-end then the close:]
 
When his hour for death had come,
He slowly rais'd himself from the bed on
        the floor,
Drew on his war-dress, shirt, and leggings,
        and girdled the belt around his waist;
Call'd for vermilion paint (his looking-glass
        was held before him,)
Painted the half his face and neck, his wrists,
        and the back-hands,
Put the scalp-knife carefully in his belt—
        then lying down, resting a moment,
Rose again, half sitting, smiled, gave in silence
        his extended to each and all,
Sank faintly low to the floor, tightly grasp'd
        the tomahawk handle,
Fix'd his look on wife and little children—the
        last:
(And here a line in memory of his
        name and death.)
P[deletion, illegible]d

Date
This manuscript, apparently printer's copy, was probably written in 1889 or 1890, shortly before the poem's publication.
Editorial note
"Osceola" was published first in Munyon's Illustrated World, April 1890.
The verso of the manuscript leaf is blank.
Location
Osceola  |  Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.
Whitman Archive ID
yal.00037

Comments?

Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Ed Folsom & Kenneth M. Price, editors.