In Whitman's Hand

Poetry Manuscripts

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leaf 1 recto
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Old Salt Kossabone.

Far back, related on my mother's side,
Old Salt Kossabone, I'll tell you how he died;
(Had been a sailor all his life—was nearly 90—
        lived with his married grandchild Jenny,
House on a hill with view of bay at hand, and
        distant cape, and stretch to open sea;)
The last of afternoons, the evening hours, for many
        a year his regular custom,
In his great ^arm‑chair by the front window seated,
        (sometimes indeed through half the day,)
Watching the coming, going of the vessels, he
         ^mutters to himself—And now the close of all:
One struggling ^out‑bound brig one day baffled for long—
        cross-tides and much wrong‑going.
At last at night-fall strikes the breeze aright,
        her whole luck veering,
And swiftly out on around ^bending round the cape, the darkness
        proudly entering, cleaving, as he watches,
"She's free—she's on her course destination"—these his the last
        words—when Jenny came, he sat there dead;
Dutch Kossabone, Old Salt, related on my
        mother's side, far back.
                                                Walt Whitman
leaf 1 verso

This manuscript was composed in late 1887 or early 1888.
Editorial note
"Old Salt Kossabone" was first published in the New York Herald February 25, 1888.
On the verso is a note written by Ellen Terry indicating that Whitman gave her this manuscript in 1888.
Old Salt Kossabone  |  The Charles E. Feinberg Collection of the Papers of Walt Whitman, Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
Whitman Archive ID


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