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About this Item

Title: Old Salt Kossabone

Creator: Walt Whitman

Date: February 25, 1888

Whitman Archive ID: per.00098

Source: New York Herald 25 February 1888: 6. Our transcription is based on a digital image 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, April Lambert, and Susan Belasco

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Old Salt Kossabone.1

Far back, related on my mother's side,
Old Salt Kossabone, I'll tell you how he died:
(Had been a sailor all his life—was nearly 90—
lived with his married grandchild, Jenny,
House on a hill, with view of bay at hand, and
distant cape, and stretch to open sea);
The last of afternoons, the evening hours, for
many a year his regular custom,
In his great armchair by the window seated,
(Somtimes, indeed, through half the day),
Watching the coming, going of the vessels, he
mutters to himself—and now the close of
One struggling outbound brig, one day baffled
for long—cross-tides and much wrong-
At last at nightfall strikes the breeze aright,
her whole luck veering,
And swiftly bending round the cape, the dark-
ness proudly entering, cleaving, as he
"She's free—she's on her destination"—these the
last words—when Jenny came, he sat
there dead,
Dutch Kossabone, Old Salt, related on my
mother's side, far back.


1. Reprinted in the "Sands at Seventy" annex to Leaves of Grass (1888). [back]


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