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Still grasping in his hand of ice
That banner with the strange device,

Excelsior!

There in the twilight cold and gray,
Lifeless, but beantiful, he lay,
And from the sky, serene and far,
A voice fell, like a falling star,

Excelsior!

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POEMS ON SLAVERY

INTRODUCTORY NOTE.

In the spring of 1842 Mr. Longfellow obtained leave of absence from college duties for six months and went abroad to try the virtues of the water-cure at Marienberg on the Rhine. At St. Goar he made an acquaintance with Ferdinand Freiligrath, the poet, which ripened into a life-long friendship. It was to this friend that he wrote shortly after his return to America:

" Let me take up the golden thread of my adventures where I last dropped it, that is to say in London. I passed a very agreeable fortnight with Dickens. Taking reluctant leave of London, I went by railway to Bath, where I dined with Walter Savage Landor, a rather ferocious critic,

- the author of five volumes of Imaginary Conversations. The next day brought me to Bristol, where I embarked in the Great Western steamer for New York. We sailed (or rather, paddled) out in the very teeth of a violent west wind, which blew for a week, — Frau die alte sass gekehrt rückwärts nach Osten' with a vengeance. had a very boisterous passage. I was not out of

I my berth more than twelve hours for the first twelve days. I was in the forward part of the vessel, where all the great waves struck and broke

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At the public cost ; nay, faithful dogs have found
Their sepulchres; but man, to man more cruel,
Appoints no end to the sufferings of his slave.

This note also was prefixed to the little volume.

“The following poems, with one exception [ The Warning], were written at sea, in the latter part of October, 1842. I had not then heard of Dr. Channing's death. Since that event, the poem addressed to him is no longer appropriate. I have decided, however, to let it remain as it was written, in testimony of my admiration for a great and good man.”

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disliking everything violent,' these brave and unrelenting fighters for justice, humanity, and liberty seemed often harsh, violent, and dictatorial. He found more congenial the earnestness of his friend Mr. Sumner, who was beginning that career of political anti-slavery activity which ended only with his death, but of whom one of the Abolitionists declared in the heat of his discourse that Charles Sumner was a greater enemy of the slave than the slave-holders themselves.'

The book naturally received attention out of all proportion to its size, and it may be added, its literary importance. It was impossible for one at that time to range himself on one side or other of the great controversy without inviting criticism not so much of literary art as of ethical position. To his father, Mr. Longfellow wrote: “How do you like the Slavery Poems ? I think they make an impression; I have received many letters about them, which I will send to you by the first good opportunity. Some persons regret that I should have written them, but for my own part I am glad of what I have done. My feelings prompted me, and my judgment approved, and still approves.”

The volume was introduced by the following passage from Massinger :

The noble horse,
That, in his fiery youth, from his wide nostrils
Neighed courage to his rider, and brake through
Groves of opposed pikes, bearing his lord
Safe to triumphant victory, old or wounded,
Was set at liberty and freed from service.
The Athenian mules, that from the quarry drew
Marble, hewed for the Temple of the Gods,
The great work ended, were dismissed and fed

At the public cost ; nay, faithful dogs have found
Their sepulchres ; but man, to man more cruel,

Appoints no end to the sufferings of his slave.
This note also was prefixed to the little volume.

“The following poems, with one exception [The Warning), were written at sea, in the latter part of October, 1842. I had not then heard of Dr. Channing's death. Since that event, the poem addressed to him is no longer appropriate. I have decided, however, to let it remain as it was written, in testimony of my admiration for a great and good man.”

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