Imágenes de páginas
PDF

In that hour, when night is calmest,
Sang he from the Hebrew Psalmist,
In a voice so sweet and clear
That I could not choose but hear,

Songs of triumph, and ascriptions,
Such as reached the swart Egyptians,
When upon the Red Sea coast
Perished Pharaoh and his host.

And the voice of his devotion
Filled my soul with strange emotion;
For its tones by turns were glad,
Sweetly solemn, wildly sad.

Paul and Silas, in their prison,
Sang of Christ, the Lord arisen,
And an earthquake's arm of might
Broke their dungeon-gates at night.

But, alas! what holy angel
Brings the slave this glad evangel?
And what earthquake s arm of might
Breaks his dungeon-gates at night?

THE WITNESSES.

In Ocean's wide domains,

Half buried in the sands, Lie skeletons in chains,

With shackled feet and hands.

Beyond the fall of dews,

Deeper than plummet lies, Float ships, with all their crews,

So more to sink nor rise.

There the black slave-ship swims,
Freighted with human forms

Whose fettered, fleshless limbs,
Are not the sport of storms.

These are the bones of Slaves;

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

"We are the Witnesses!"

Within Earth's wide domains
Are markets for men's lives;

Their necks are galled with chains,
Their wrists are cramped with gyves.

Dead bodies, that the kite
In deserts makes its prey;

Murders, that with affright
Scare schoolboys from their play!

All evil thoughts and deeds;

Anger, and lust, and pride; The foulest, rankest weeds,'

That choke Life's groaning tide!

These are the woes of Slaves;

They glare from the abyss; They cry, from unknown graves,

"We are the Witnesses!"

THE QUADROON GIRL.

The Slaver in the broad lagoon

Lay moored with idle sail; He waited for the rising moon,

And for the evening gale.

Under the shore his boat was tied,

And all her listless crew Watched the grey alligator slide

Into the still bayou.

Odours of orange-flowers and spice
Reached them from time to time,

Like airs that breathe from Paradise
Upon a world of crime.

The Planter, under his roof of thatch,
Smoked thoughtfully and slow;

The Slaver's thumb was on the latch,
He seemed in haste to go.

He said, "My ship at anchor rides

In yonder broad lagoon;
I only wait the evening tides,

And the rising of the moon."

Before them, with her face upraised,

In timid attitude,
Like one half curious, half amazed,

A Quadroon maiden stood.

Her eyes were large and full of light,
Her arms and neck were bare;

No garment she wore save a kirtle bright,
And her own long raven hair.

And on her lips there played a smile

As holy; meek, and faint,
As lights in some cathedral aisle

The features of a saint.

"The soil is barren,—the farm is old,"
The thoughtful Planter said;
Then looked upon the Slaver's gold,
And then upon the maid.

His heart within him was at strife

With such accursed gains,
For he kDew whose passions gave her life,

Whose blood ran in her veins.

But the voice of nature was too weak;

He took the glittering gold!
Then pale as death grew the maiden's cheek

Her hands as icy cold.

The Slaver led her from the door,

He led her by the hand,
To be his slave and paramour

In a strange and distant land!

THE WARNING.

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 snake the pillars of this Commonweal,

Till the vast temple of our liberties

A shapeless mass of wreck and rubbish lies.

BALLADS, SONGS, AND SONNETS.

SONGS.

SEAWEED.

When descends on the Atlantic

The gigantic
Storm-wind of the equinox,
Landward in his wrath he scourges

The toiling surges,
Laden with seaweed from the rocks:

From Bermuda's reefs; from edges

Of sunken ledges,
In some far-off, bright Azore;
From Bahama, ana the dashing,

Silver-flashing
Surges of San Salvador;

From the tumbling surf, that buries
The Orkneyan skerries,

Answering the hoarse Hebrides;

And from wrecks of ships, and drifting
Spars, uplifting

On the desolate, rainy seas;—

Ever drifting, drifting, drifting

On the shifting
Currents of the restless main;
Till in sheltered coves, and reaches

Of sandy beaches!
All have found repose again.

So when storms of wild emotion

Strike the ocean
Of the poet's soul, ere long
From each cave and rocky fastness,

In its vastness,
Floats some fragment of a song:

From the far-off isles enchanted,

Heaven has planted
With the golden fruth of Truth;
From the flashing surf, whose vision

Gleams Elysian
In the tropic climate of Youth;

From the strong Will, and the Endeavour

That forever
Wrestles with the tides of Fate;
From the wreck of Hopes far-scattered,

Tempestnshattered,
Floating waste and desolate ;—

Ever drifting, drifting, drifting

On the shifting
Currents of the restless heart;
Till at length in books recorded,

They, like hoarded
Household words, no more depart.

THE DAY IS DONE.

The day is done, and the darkness
Falls from the wings of Night,

As a feather is wafted downward
From an eagle in his flight.

I see the lights of the village

Gleam through the rain and the mist, And a feeling of sadness comes o'er me,

That my soul cannot resist:

A feeling of sadness and longing,

That is not akin to pain, And resembles sorrow only

As the mist resembles the rain.

Come, read to me some poem.
Some simple and heartfelt lay,

That shall soothe this restless feeling,
And banish the thoughts of day.

Not from the grand old masters,

Not from the bards sublime, Whose distant footsteps echo

Through the corridors of Time,

For, like strains of martial music,
Their mighty thoughts suggest

« AnteriorContinuar »