BETA

The Freeman and the Slave.

From distant lands, far o’er the wave,1
A fugitive, in haste and fear2
A poor, degraded, branded slave ;3
Heart-stricken, I have journeyed here.4
I come to crave a freeman’s aid5
I ask but as thou are to be ;6
Where caste or colour ne’er degrade7
I come, where all are free !8
Beneath the lash still forc’d to toil,9
Unshelter’d from a burning sun ;10
Though fed with plenty from the soil11
How dearly was that plenty won.12
Oh ! stranger, how these heart-strings thrill,13
On England’s happy shore to stand ;14
What feelings proud my bosom fill,15
To grasp a freeman’s hand.”16
Poor outcast of an injured race,17
Alas ! alas ! for them and thee ;18
Come to a brother slave’s embrace !19
Aye, come, ’ tis all his aid may be.20
The liberty that filled thine ear21
Upon a far and foreign shore22
That lures thy tortured spirit here,23
Will never lure thee more.24
Come ! welcome to that sea-girt isle,25
Whose laurelled greatness ne’er may fade26
Where bondage base may ne’er defile27
The things that God hath purely made.28
And welcome to a freeman’s hearth29
A freeman’s peace and plenty see ;30
Despised, degraded, from thy birth,31
Now come where all are free !32
From early morn till latest night,33
All through the long and weary day,34
My moments, ’ neath the reign of might,35
In cheerless labour pass away.36
Yet all my toiling brings not bread,37
The idle few o’er grasping all ;38
And still the hovel poor, unfed,39
Though still o’er-stored the hall.40
My squalid children, my by day,41
Fast wasting youth and life, I see ;42
Their only school—their only play,43
Rude toil, and tears, and stripes must be.44
Their mother, sad at home, the while,45
Her joyless household task must ply,46
And when, perchance, she feigns a smile,47
’Tis but a stifled sigh.48
To every whim and rude command,49
Howe’er each fitful mood may sway50
Our lordly masters of the land,51
Still mute submission we must pay ;52
Or, worse than Afric’s meanest slave,53
The liberty to toil denied54
Denies the bread our labour gave,55
By those our sweat supplied.56
Yet freedom’s sounds still loudly ring57
Throughout the land, in proud display,58
A theme for idle wealth to sing59
A banquet toy for voiceful play ;60
A flower, indeed, too good and rare,61
For aught but labour’s distant gaze ;62
A treasure far too pure and fair,63
For aught but labour’s praise.64
Poor victims of man’s iron sway65
Of savage, selfish man’s decree66
Thou injured one of Afric, say,67
Hath England’s freedom charms for thee ?68
Thus doubly-tortured wouldst thou feel,69
And crawl as England’s master’s will70
A thing of chains still doomed to kneel,71
And starve and labour still.72
Oh, vengeance, come, thou long long sought !73
Earth’s fainting fettered millions call ;74
At last the ruin they have wrought75
Upon the spoiler’s heads should fall ;76
The groaning earth can bear no more77
The hell-throes of this blighting sway.78
O let this night of chains be o’er :79
Come ! freedom’s long-sought day.”80
As rose that heart-burst mildly high,81
No more’s breathed from that stranger slave ;82
But, oh, a deep and fervent sigh,83
And mute amen, his spirit gave.84
In brotherhood of woe they prayed,85
That toiling man again should be86
In every clime—of every shade87
As God hath made him—Free.88