Published Works


About this Item

Title: The Inca's Daughter

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: May 5, 1840

Whitman Archive ID: per.00035

Source: The Long Island Democrat 5 May 1840: [1]. Our transcription is based on a photocopy of a microfilm copy of an original issue. For a description of the editorial rationale behind our treatment of the periodical poems, see our statement of editorial policy.

Contributors to digital file: Elizabeth Lorang and Susan Belasco


Before the dark-brow'd sons of Spain,
A captive Indian maiden stood;
Imprison'd where the moon before
Her race as princes trod.
The rack had riven her frame that day—
But not a sigh or murmur broke
Forth from her breast; calmly she stood,
And sternly thus she spoke:—
"The glory of Peru is gone;
Her proudest warriors in the fight—
Her armies, and her Inca's power
Bend to the Spaniard's might.
"And I—a Daughter of the Sun—
Shall I ingloriously still live?
Shall a Peruvian monarch's child
Become the white lord's slave?
"No: I'd not meet my father's frown
In the free spirit's place of rest,
Nor seem a stranger midst the bands
Whom Manitou has blest."
Her snake-like eye, her cheek of fire,
Glowed with intenser, deeper hue;
She smiled in scorn, and from her robe
A poisoned arrow drew.
"Now, paleface see! the Indian girl
Can teach thee how to bravely die:
Hail! spirits of my kindred slain,
A sister ghost is nigh!"
Her hand was clenched and lifted high—
Each breath, and pulse, and limb was still'd;
An instant more the arrow fell:
Thus died the Inca's child.


Published Works | In Whitman's Hand | Life & Letters | Commentary | Resources | Pictures & Sound

Support the Archive | About the Archive

Distributed under a Creative Commons License. Matt Cohen, Ed Folsom, & Kenneth M. Price, editors.