In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: The man-of-war.-Bird

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: Between 1869 and 1876

Whitman Archive ID: yal.00005

Source: Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library. Transcribed from digital images of the original. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of manuscripts, see our statement of editorial policy.

Editorial note: This manuscript describes the basic narrative of "To the Man-of-War-Bird," a poem published first in the London Athenaeum on April 1, 1876. As Whitman acknowledged in the November 16, 1878 publication of "To the Man-of-War-Bird" in the Philadelphia Progress, the poem owes much to Jules Michelet's "The Bird," and particularly to the English translation that appeared first in 1869. This manuscript may be either an idea for a poem, a response to Michelet's verse, or a response to a newspaper piece about the frigate bird (also known as the man-of-war-bird), part of which Whitman clipped out and pasted to the manuscript. The manuscript was likely written between 1869 and 1876.

Notes written on manuscript: On leaf 1 verso, in unknown hand: "Sea-drift Page 35"; on leaf 1 verso, in unknown hand: "Walt Whitman"

Contributors to digital file: Nicole Gray, Nick Krauter, Lisa Renfro, Andy Jewell, Zane Zimbelman, Kenneth Price, and Brett Barney

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tThe man-of-war.-Bird

A terrible storm, a ^day & night, hurricane, wretch wrec lashing the sea to fury, & wrecking ships, & strewing the land with debris & destruction—Then a sweet calm ^following morn, the dawn rosy & elastic & the flashing sunrise Then & in it the frigate bird

The Frigate Bird.

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