In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: Poem among the Siamese

Creators: Walt Whitman, Unknown

Date: Between 1850 and 1860

Whitman Archive ID: duk.00050

Source: Trent Collection of Whitmaniana, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University. Transcribed from digital images of the original item. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the marginalia and annotations, see our statement of editorial policy.

Editorial note(s): At one point, this manuscript likely formed part of Whitman's cultural geography scrapbook.

Contributors to digital file: Ashlyn Stewart and Kevin McMullen


Paste-on | Whitman's Notes on Paste-on | Whitman's Highlighting on Paste-on | Erasure | Overwrite

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Poem among the Siamese

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From "A Descriptive Dictionary of the Indian Islands and Adjacent Countries, by John Crawford, F. R. S.," a book very full of knowledge both useful and entertaining, we extract some queer exemplifications of the workings of the Siamese mind. Proverbs are everywhere alike in kind; in those well translated from barbarous languages there is a certain refreshing quaintness which we do not perceive in our own; a new flavor.

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Then follows a long and denunciatory Siamese poem, describing the future punishment of the wicked; a painstaking enumeration of iron ruffs and fetters, a red-hot iron beds, and such like inflictions. It ends with a horrid threat against people

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who don't respect the Siamese Constitution. "He has despised the laws of his forefathers; and on this account, dogs of the size of an elephant, and crows and vultures shall devour his flesh."

The cast of the southern Asiatic mind, literature, poetry.—Caste—suppleness,—so much that the Teutonic descendant cannot sympathise with.—

"the Chaldeaus or ancient Persians, with their Zerdusht
Carlyle ? Zoroaster

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1 THE following is a view of their Chronology. There are
2 four yugs or ages: the first was the age of innocence or truth, and embraces 1,728,000 years: the second 1,296,000, the third 864,000, and the last 432,000: these are the
3 golden, silver, brazen, and iron ages. We live in the last
4 or Kali-yug: age of misery. A great age, Maha-yug, is

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5 equal to these four: 4,320,000 years of mortals. A solar year is equivalent to a day and night of the gods. 360
6 such days and nights, or 360 solar years, constitute a "year of the gods." 12,000 years of the gods form an "age of
7 the gods," or "divine age," or "great age," which is equal
8 to 4,320,000 of men. Seventy-one Maha-yugs constitute a period called Manwantara; during which one Menu with
9 his posterity of sons and grandsons ruled the earth. There
10 are 14 Menus and 14 Manwantaras. These 14 Manwantaras are equal to 1000 Maha-yugs or one Kalpa, or
11 4,320,000,000 solar years. This is the day of Brahma.

Cossacks, fierce, ruthless, sitting round a table drinking brandy, after a battle, singing a song in praise of blood the gallows, the knout, torture, &c.

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