Imágenes de páginas

In happy homes he saw the light
Of household fires gleam warm and bright;
Above, the spectral glaciers shone,
And from his lips escaped a groan,

“ Try not the Pass !" the old man said ;

“Dark lowers the tempest overhead, The roaring torrent is deep and wide !" And loud that clarion voice replied,

Excelsior !
“O stay,” the maiden said, “and rest

Thy weary head upon this breast !"
A tear stood in his bright blue eye,
But still he answered, with a sigh,

“ Beware the pine-tree's withered branch:

Beware the awful aralanche !”
This was the peasant's last Good-night,
A voice replied, far up the height,

At break of day, as heavenward
The pious monks of Saint Bernard
Uttered the oft-repeated prayer,
A voice cried through the startled air,

Excelsior !
A traveller, by the faithful hound,
Half-buried in the snow was found,
Still grasping in his hand of ice
That banner with the strange device,

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

Excelsior !

Poems on Slavery.


[The following Poems, with one exception, 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.)

TO WILLIAM E. CHANNING. The pages of thy book I read,

The feudal curse, whose whips and yokes And as I closed each one,

Insult humanity. My beart, responding, ever said, "Servant of God! well done!”

A voice is ever at thy side,

Speaking in tones of might, Well done! Thy words are great and bold; Like the prophetic voice, that cried At times they seem to me

To John in Patmos, “Write!” Like Luther's, in the days of old,

Write ! and tell out this bloody tale ; Half-battles for the free.

Record this dire eclipse, Go on, until this land revokes

This Day of Wrath, this Endless Wail, The old and chartered Lie,

1 This dread Apocalypse !



BESIDE the ungathered rice he lay,

They held him by the hand ! His sickle in his hand;

A tear burst from the sleeper's lids,
His breast was bare, bis matted hair And fell into the sand.

Was buried in the sand.
A zain, in the mist and shadow of sleep. And then at furious speed he rode
He saw his Native Land.

Along the Niger's bank;

His bridle-reins were golden chains, Wide through the landscape of his! And, with a martial clank, dreams

At each leap he could feel his scabbard The lordly Niger flowed;

of steel Beneath the palm-trees on the plain Smiting his stallion's flank.

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

Before bim, like a blood-red flag, Descend the mountain-road.

The bright flamingoes flew;

From morn till night he followed their He saw orce more his dark-eyed queen flight, Among her children stand ;

O'er plains where the tamarind grew, They clasped his neck, they kissed his Till he saw the roofs of Caffre huts, cheeks,

And the ocean rose to view.

At night be heard the lion roar,

With a voice so wild and free, And the hyæna scream;

That he started in his sleep and And the river-horse as he crushed the smiled reeds

At their tempestuous glee.
Beside some hidden stream;
And it passed, like a glorious roll of He did not feel the driver's whip,

Nor the burning heat of day;
Through the triumph of his dream. For death, had illumined the Land of

The forests, with their myriad tongues, And his lifeless body lay
Shouted of liberty;

A worn-out fetter, that the soul
And the Blast of the Desert cried aloud, Had broken and thrown away!

SøE dwells by great Kenhawa's side, / And musical, as silver bells,
In valleys green and cool;

Their falling chains shall be.
And all her hope and all her pride

And following her beloved Lord, Are in the village school.

In decent poverty, Her soul, like the transparent air She makes her life one sweet record That robes the hills above,

And deed of charity. Though not of earth, encircles there

For she was rich and gave up all
All things with arms of love.

To break the iron bands
And thus she walks among her girls Of those who waited in her hall,
With praise and mild rebukes;

And laboured in her lands.
Subduing e'en rude village churls

Long since beyond the Southern Sea By her angelic looks.

Their outbound sails have sped, She reads to them at eventide

While she, in meek humility, Of One who came to save ;

Now earns her daily bread. To cast the captive's chains aside,

It is their prayers, which never cease, And liberate the slave.

That clothe her with such grace ; And oft the blessed time foretells Their blessing is the light of peace When all men shall be free;

That shines upon her face.

LOUD he sang the Psalm of David ! And the voice of his devotion
He, a Negro, and enslaved,

Filled my soul with strange emotion; Sang of Israel's victory,

For its tones by turns were glad,
Sang of Zion, bright and free.

Sweetly solemn, wildly sad.
In that hour, when night is calmest, Paul and Silas, in their prison,
Sang he from the Hebrew Psalmist, Sang of Christ, the Lord arisen,
In a voice so sweet and clear

And an earthquake's arm of might
That I could not choose but hear. Broke their dungeon-gates at night.
Songs of triumph, and ascriptions, But, alas! what holy angel
Such as reached the swart Egyptians, Brings the slave this glad evangel?
When upon the Red Sea coast

And what earthquake's arm of might Perished Pharaoh and his host.

Breaks his dungeon-gates at night?


• THE SLAVE IN THE DISMAL SWAMP. Is dark fens of the Dismal Swamp A poor old slave, infirm and lame; The hunted Negro lay;

Great scars deformed his face ; He saw the fire of the midnight camp, On his forehead he bore the brand of And heard at times a horse's tramp,

shame, And a bloodhound's distant bay. | And the rags, that hid his mangled

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

Were the livery of disgrace. In bulrush and in brake;

All things above were bright and fair, Where waving mosses shroud the pine, | All things were glad and free; And the cedar grows, and the poisonous Lithe squirrels darted here and there, vine

And wild birds filled the echoing air
Is spotted like the snake;

With songs of Liberty!
Where hardly a human foot could pass, On him alone was the doom of pain,

Or a human heart would dare, 1 From the morning of his birth ;.
On the quaking turf of the green morass On him alone the curse of Cain
He crouched in the rank and tangled grass, Fell, like a flail on the garnered grain,
Like a wild beast in his lair.

| And struck him to the earth!

THE QUADROON GIRL. THE Slaver in the broad lagoon Her eyes were large, and full of light, Lay moored with idle sail;

Her arms and neck were bare ; He waited for the rising moon, No garment she wore, save a kirtle bright, And for the evening gale.

And her own long, raven hair. Under the shore his boat was tied,

And on her lips there played a smile And all her listless crew

As holy, meek, and faint, Watched the gray alligator slide As lights in some cathedral aisle Into the still bayou.

The features of a saint. Odours of orange-flowers, and spice,

“The soil is barren,- the farm is old;" Reached them from time to time,

The thoughtful Planter said;
Like airs that breathe from Paradise

Then looked upon the Slaver's gold,
Upon a world of crime.

| And then upon the maid.

His heart within him was at strife The Planter, under his roof of thatch,

With such accursèd gains ; Smoked thoughtfully and slow; For he knew whose passions gave her life. The Slaver's thumb was on the latch,

| Whose blood ran in her veins. He seemed in haste to go.

But the voice of nature was too weak; He said, “My ship at anchor rides He took the glittering gold ! In yonder broad lagoon;

Then pale as death grew the maiden's I only wait the evening tides,

And the rising of the moon.”

Her hands as icy cold.
Before them, with her face upraised, The Slaver led her from the door,
In timid attitude,

He led her by the hand,
Like one half curious, half amazed, To be his slave and paramour
A Quadroon maiden stood.

In a strange and distant land !

THE WITNESSES. In Ocean's wide domains,

Within Earth's wide domains Half buried in the sands,

Are markets for men's lives; Lie skeletons in chains,

Their necks are galled with chains, With shackled feet and hands. Their wrists are cramped with gyves. Beyond the fall of dews,

Dead bodies, that the kite Deeper than plummet lies,

In deserts makes its prey; Float ships with all their crews, Murders, that with affright No more to sink nor rise.

Scare schoolboys from their play! There the black Slave-ship swims, All evil thoughts and deeds; Freighted with human forms,

Anger, and lust, and pride ; Whose fettered, fleshless limbs The foulest, rankest weeds, Are not the sport of storms.

That choke Life's groaning tide ! These are the bones of Slaves ; These are the woes of Slaves ; They gleam from the abyss ;

They glare from the abyss ; They cry, from yawning waves,

They cry from unknown graves, “We are the Witnesses !”

“We are the Witnesses !"

[ocr errors]

BEWARE! The Israelite of old, who tore

The lion in his path,—when, poor and blind,
He saw the blessed light of heaven no more,

Shorn of his noble strength and forced to grind
In prison, and at last led forth to be
A pander to Philistine revelry,-

Upon the pillars of the temple laid

His desperate hands, and in its overthrow
Destroyed himself, and with him those who made

A cruel mockery of his sightless woe;
The poor, blind Slave, the scoff and jest of all,
Expired, and thousands perished in the fall!

There is a poor, blind Samson in this land,

Shorn of his strength, and bound in bonds of steel,
Who may, in some grim revel, raise his hand,

And shake the pillars of this Commonweal,
Till the vast Temple of our liberties
A shapeless mass of wreck and rubbish lies.

« AnteriorContinuar »