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• Child of our travail and our woe,
Light in our day of sorrow,
Through my rapt spirit I foreknow
The glory of thy morrow;
I hear great steps, that through the shade
Draw nigher still and nigher,
And voices call like that which bade
The prophet come up higher.'
I looked, no form mine eyes could find,
I heard the red cock crowing,
And through my window-chinks the wind
A dismal tune was blowing ;
Thought I, My neighbour Buckingham
Hath somewhat in him gritty,
Some Pilgrim-stuff that hates all sham,
And he will print my ditty.
ON THE CAPTURE OF CERTAIN FUGITIVE
SLAVES NEAR WASHINGTON. Look on who will in apathy, and stifle they who can, The sympathies, the hopes, the words, that make man truly man; Let those whose hearts are dungeoned up with interest or with
Consent to hear with quiet pulse of loathsome deeds like these!
I first drew in New England's air, and from her hardy breast
Sucked in the tyrant-hating milk that will not let me rest ;
And if my words seem treason to the dullard and the tame,
'Tis but my Bay-State dialect,—our fathers spake the same !
Shame on the costly mockery of piling stone on stone
To those who won our liberty, the heroes dead and gone,
While we look coldly on, and see law-shielded ruffians slay
The men who fain would win their own, the heroes of to-day!
Are we pledged to craven silence ? O fling it to the wind,
The parchment wall that bars us from the leastof humankind-
That makes us cringe and temporize, and dumbly stand at rest,
While Pity's burning flood of words is red-hot in the breast !
Though we break our father's promise, we have nobler duties
The traitor to Humanity is the traitor most accursed;
Man is more than Constitutions; better rot beneath the sod,
Than be true to Church and State while we are doubly false
We owe allegiance to the State; but deeper, truer, more,
To the sympathies that God hath set within our spirit's core;-
Our country claims our fealty; we grant it so, but then
Before Man made us citizens, great Nature made us men.
He's true to God who's true to man; wherever wrong is done,
To the humblest and the weakest, 'neath the all-beholding sun,
That wrong is also done to us; and they are slaves most base,
Whose love of right is for themselves, and not for all their race.
God works for all. Ye cannot hem the hope of being free
With parallels of latitude, with mountain-range or sea.
Put golden padlocks on Truth's lips, be callous as ye will,
From soul to soul o'er all the world, leaps one electric thrill.
Chain down your slaves with ignorance, ye cannot keep apart,
With all your craft of tyranny, the human heart from heart:
When first the Pilgrims landed on the Bay-State's iron shore,
The word went forth that slavery should one day be no more.
Out from the land of bondage’tis decreed our slaves shall go,
And signs to us are offered, as erst to Pharaoh;
If we are blind, their exodus, like Israel's of yore,
Through a Red Sea is doomed to be, whose surges are of gore.
'Tis ours to save our brethren, with peace and love to win
Their darkened hearts from error, ere they harden it to sin;
But if before his duty man with listless spirit stands,
Ere long the Great Avenger takes the work from out his hands.
TO THE DANDELION.
DEAR common flower, that grow'st beside the way,
Fringing the dusty road with harmless gold,
First pledge of blithesome May,
Which children pluck, and, full of pride, uphold,
High-hearted buccaneers, o'erjoyed that they
An Eldorado in the grass have found,
Which not the rich earth's ample round
May match in wealth—thou art more dear to me
Than all the prouder summer-blooms may be.
Gold such as thine ne'er drew the Spanish prow
Through the primeval hush of Indian seas,
Nor wrinkled the lean brow
Of age, to rob the lover's heart of ease;
'Tis the spring's largess, which she scatters To rich and poor alike, with lavish band,
Though most hearts never understand
To take it at God's value, but pass by
The offered wealth with unrewarded eye.
Hark! that rustle of a dress,
Stiff with lavish costliness !
Here comes one whose cheek would flush
But to have her garment brush
'Gainst the girl whose fingers thin
Wove the weary broidery in,
Bending backward from her toil,
Lest her tears the silk might soil,
And, in midnight's chill and murk,
Stitched her life into the work,
Shaping from her bitter thought
Heart's-ease and forget-me-not,
Satirizing her despair
With the emblems woven there.
Little doth the wearer heed
Of the heart-break in the brede;
A hyena by her side
Skulks, down-looking, -it is Pride.
He digs for her in the earth,
Where lie all her claims of birth,
With his foul paws rooting o’er
Some long-buried ancestor,
Who, perhaps, a statue won
By the ill deeds he had done,
By the innocent blood he shed,
By the desolation spread
Over happy villages,
Blotting out the smile of peace.
There walks Judas, he who sold
Yesterday his Lord for gold,
Sold God's presence in his heart
For a proud step in the mart;
He hath dealt in flesh and blood,-
At the bank his name is good,
At the bank, and only there,
'Tis a marketable ware.
In his eyes that stealthy gleam
Was not learned of sky or stream,
But it has the cold, hard glint
Of new dollars from the mint.
Open now your spirit's eyes,
Look through that poor clay disguise
Which has thickened, day by day,
Till it keeps all light at bay,
And his soul in pitchy gloom
Gropes about its narrow tomb,
From whose dank and slimy walls
Drop by drop the horror falls.
Look! a serpent lank and cold
Hugs his spirit fold on fold ;
From bis heart, all day and night,
It doth suck God's blessed light.
Drink it will, and drink it must,
Till the cup holds nought but dust;
All day long he hears it hiss,
Writhing in its fiendish bliss ;
All night long he sees its eyes
Flicker with foul ecstasies,
As the spirit ebbs away
Into the absorbing clay.
Who is he that skulks, afraid
Of the trust he has betrayed,
Shuddering if perchance a gleam
Of old nobleness should stream
Through the pent, unwholesome room,
Where his shrunk soul cowers in gloom,-
Spirit sad beyond the rest
By more instinct for the best ?
'Tis a poet who was sent
For a bad world's punishment,
By compelling it to see
Golden glimpses of To Be,
By compelling it to hear
Songs that prove the angels near;
Who was sent to be the tongue
Of the weak and spirit-wrung,
Whence the fiery-winged Despair
In men's shrinking eyes might flare.
'Tis our hope doth fashion us
To base use or glorious :
He who might have been a lark
Of Truth's morning, from the dark
Raining down melodious hope
Of a freer, broader scope,
Of the spirit's full sunrise,
Chose to be a bird of night,
Which with eyes refusing light,
Hooted from some hollow tree
Of the world's idolatry.
'Tis his punishment to hear
Flutterings of pinions near,
And his own vain wings to feel
Drooping downward to his heel,
All their grace and import lost,
Burdening his weary ghost:
Ever walking by his side
He must see his angel guide,
Who at intervals doth turn
Looks on him so sadly stern,
With such ever-new surprise
Of hushed anguish in her eyes,
That it seems the light of day
From around him shrinks away,
Or drops blunted from the wall
Built around him by his fall.
Then the mountains, whose white peaks
Catch the morning's earliest streaks,
He must see, where prophets sit,
Turning east their faces lit,
Whence, with footsteps beautiful,
To the earth, yet dim and dull,
They the gladsome tidings bring
Of the sunlight's hastening:
Nerer can those hills of bliss
Be o'erclimbed by feet like his!
But enough! 0, do not dare
next the veil to tear,
Woven of station, trade, or dress,
More obscene than nakedness,
Wherewith plausible culture drapes
Fallen Nature's myriad shapes !
Let us rather love to mark
How the unextinguished spark
Will shine through the thin disguise
Of our customs, pomps, and lies,
And, not seldom blown to flame,
Vindicate its ancient claim.
SOME sort of heart I know is hers,
I chanced to feel her pulse one night; A brain she has that nerer errs,
And yet is never nobly right;