In Whitman's Hand


About this Item

Title: Osceola

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: 1889 or 1890

Whitman Archive ID: yal.00037

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: "Osceola" was published first in Munyon's Illustrated World in April 1890. This manuscript, apparently printer's copy, was probably written in 1889 or 1890, shortly before the poem's publication. The manuscript is mounted in a book, so the verso image is not available.

Contributors to digital file: Nicole Gray, Nick Krauter, Stephen Boykewich, Andy Jewell, Kenneth Price, and Brett Barney

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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

(And here a line in memory of his
name and death.)



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