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THE SLAVE SINGING AT MIDNIGHT.
LOUD he sang the psalm of David!
He, a Negro and enslaved,
Sang of Israel's victory,
Sang of Zion, bright and free.
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?
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,
No 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!"
Dead bodies, that the kite
In deserts makes its prey;
Murders, that with affright
Scare schoolboys from their play
Within Earth's wide domains
Are markets for men's lives;
Their necks are galled with chains,
Their wrists are cramped with gyves
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 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 gray alligator slide
Into the still bayou.
Odors 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.
THE QUADROON GIRL.
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 knew 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!
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.