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POEMS ON SLAVERY

TO WILLIAM E. CHANNING.

The pages of thy book I read,

And as I closed each one,
My heart, responding, ever said,

“Servant of God! well done!"

Well done! Thy words are great and bold;

At times they seem to me,
Like Luther's, in the days of old,

Half-battles for the free.

Go on, until this land revokes

The old and chartered Lie, The feudal curse, whose whips and yokes

Insult humanity.

A voice is ever at thy side

Speaking in tones of might, Like the prophetic voice, that cried

To John in Patmos, “ Write!”

Write ! and tell out this bloody tale ;

Record this dire eclipse,
This Day of Wrath, this Endless Wail,

This dread Apocalypse !

THE SLAVE'S DREAM.

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BESIDE the ungathered rice he lay,

His sickle in his hand;
His breast was bare, his matted hair

Was buried in the sand.
Again, in the mist and shadow of sleep,

He saw his Native Land.

Wide through the landscape of his dreams

The lordly Niger flowed ;
Beneath the palm-trees on the plain

Once more a king he strode ;
And heard the tinkling caravans

Descend the mountain road.

He saw once more his dark-eyed queen

Among her children stand;
They clasped his neck, they kissed his cheeks,

They held him by the hand! —
A tear burst from the sleeper's lids

And fell into the sand.

And then at furious speed he rode

Along the Niger's bank;
His bridle-reins were golden chains,

And, with a martial clank,
At each leap he could feel his scabbard of steel

Smiting his stallion's flank.

Before him, like a blood-red flag,

The bright flamingoes flew;

From morn till night he followed their flight,

O’er plains where the tamarind grew, Till he saw the roofs of Caffre huts,

And the ocean rose to view.

At night he heard the lion roar,

And the hyena scream, And the river-horse, as he crushed the reeds

Beside some hidden stream ; And it passed, like a glorious roll of drums,

Through the triumph of his dream.

The forests, with their myriad tongues,

Shouted of liberty ;
And the Blast of the Desert cried aloud,

With a voice so wild and free,
That he started in his sleep and smiled

At their tempestuous glee.

He did not feel the driver's whip,

Nor the burning heat of day;
For Death had illumined the Land of Sleep,

And his lifeless body lay
A worn-out fetter, that the soul

Had broken and thrown away!

THE GOOD PART,

THAT SHALL NOT BE TAKEN AWAY.
SHE dwells by Great Kenhawa's side,

In valleys green and cool;
And all her hope and all her pride

Are in the village school.

Her soul, like the transparent air

That robes the hills above, Though not of earth, encircles there

All things with arms of love.

And thus she walks among her girls

With praise and mild rebukes ; Subduing e'en rude village churls

By her angelic looks.

She reads to them at eventide

Of One who came to save ;
To cast the captive's chains aside

And liberate the slave.

And oft the blessed time foretells

When all men shall be free; And musical, as silver bells,

Their falling chains shall be.

And following her beloved Lord,

In decent poverty, She makes her life one sweet record

And deed of charity.

For she was rich, and gave up all

To break the iron bands
Of those who waited in her hall,

And labored in her lands.

Long since beyond the Southern Sea

Their outbound sails have sped,

THE SLAVE IN THE DISMAL SWAMP

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While she, in meek humility,

Now earns her daily bread.

It is their prayers,

which never cease, That clothe her with such grace; Their blessing is the light of peace

That shines upon her face.

THE SLAVE IN THE DISMAL SWAMP.

In dark fens of the Dismal Swamp

The hunted Negro lay;
He saw the fire of the midnight camp,
And heard at times a horse's tramp

And a bloodhound's distant bay.

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Where will-o'-the-wisps and glow-worms shine,

In bulrush and in brake;
Where waving mosses shroud the pine,
And the cedar grows, and the poisonous vine

Is spotted like the snake;

Where hardly a human foot could pass,

Or a human heart would dare,
On the quaking turf of the
He crouched in the rank and tangled grass,

Like a wild beast in his lair.

green morass

A poor old slave, infirm and lame;

Great scars deformed his face ;
On his forehead he bore the brand of shame,
And the rags, that hid his mangled frame,

Were the livery of disgrace.

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