In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: Black Lucifer was not dead

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: Between 1850 and 1855

Whitman Archive ID: uva.00257

Source: Papers of Walt Whitman (MSS 3829), Clifton Waller Barrett Library of American Literature, Albert H. Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia. Transcribed from our own digital image of the original manuscript. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of manuscripts, see our statement of editorial policy.

Editorial note: Whitman probably drafted this manuscript in the early 1850s as he was preparing materials for the first (1855) edition of Leaves of Grass. It is a draft of lines that appeared in the fourth poem in that edition, eventually titled "The Sleepers." The word "Sleepchaser's" appears in the upper right corner, perhaps indicating that Whitman was considering a title similar to the 1860 and 1867 title "Sleep-Chasings" even before the poem was first published in 1855, unless this is in fact a reworking of the section for the 1860 edition. The possibility of a post-1855 dating, however, appears to be slight given the similarities of paper choice and inscription techniques among other leaves and similarities to drafts in "Talbot Wilson," an early Library of Congress notebook. The poem "Sleep-Chasings" eventually became "The Sleepers" in 1871.

Notes written on manuscript: On leaf 1 recto, in unknown hand: "9"

Contributors to digital file: Caitlin Henry, Leslie Ianno, Nicole Gray, and Kenneth M. Price

[begin leaf 1 recto] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[Page image:]


I am a hell‑name and a Curse:

The [illegible] Black Lucifer was not dead;

Or if he was, I am his sorrowful, terrible heir:

I am Apollyon, I am the God of Revolt—deathless sorrowful vast scorner of those him ^whoever who rules ^oppresses me,

I will either destroy them him or they he shall release me.

Damn him! how he does defile me!

He hHopplesr ^of his own sons; he breedser of children and sells tradesr them

He treats politicians ^sSellsing his daughters and the breast that ha fed his young [illegible], and ^ so buys a nomination to ^ great office;

He iInformedr against my brother and sister and got tookaking pay for their blood, hearts; blood,

He He lLlaughed when I looked ^from my iron necklace, after the steamboat that
carried away my woman.—

[begin leaf 1 verso] -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[Page image:]


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