Treasure Island

Walt Whitman

(31 May 1819 - 26 March 1892 / New York / United States)

Ethiopia Saluting The Colors



WHO are you, dusky woman, so ancient, hardly human,
With your woolly-white and turban'd head, and bare bony feet?
Why, rising by the roadside here, do you the colors greet?


('Tis while our army lines Carolina's sand and pines,
Forth from thy hovel door, thou, Ethiopia, com'st to me,
As, under doughty Sherman, I march toward the sea.)


Me, master, years a hundred, since from my parents sunder'd,
A little child, they caught me as the savage beast is caught;
Then hither me, across the sea, the cruel slaver brought.


No further does she say, but lingering all the day, 10
Her high-borne turban'd head she wags, and rolls her darkling eye,
And curtseys to the regiments, the guidons moving by.


What is it, fateful woman--so blear, hardly human?
Why wag your head, with turban bound--yellow, red and green?
Are the things so strange and marvelous, you see or have seen?

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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