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Antislavery Poetry from San Francisco

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The Pacific Appeal was the leading African American newspaper on the West Coast during the early 1860s.  A newly-published set of eight antislavery poems from the journal's inaugural 1862 volume captures the sense of expectancy within the African American community for the imminent end of US slavery.  These poems include the work of James Madison Bell, a San Francisco plasterer, brickmason, and poet.  Read more... 
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Sunlight Upon the Landscape and Other Poems (XHTML)

This collection of antislavery poetry, published in 1853 by a pseudonymous 'Daughter of Kentucky,' is probably attributable to Mattie Griffith Browne (1825?-1906). Digitized by the Antislavery Literature Project.

[title page]

 

 

SUNLIGHT

 

UPON

 

THE LANDSCAPE

 

AND

 

OTHER POEMS.

 

 

 

BY

 

A DAUGHTER OF KENTUCKY.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CINCINNATI:
MOORE, ANDERSON, WILSTACH & KEYS,

28 West Fourth Street

1853.

 

 

 [unnumbered page ii]

Entered, according to act of Congress, in the year 1853, by

MOORE, ANDERSON & Co.,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the District of Ohio

 

CINCINNATI:

C. A. Morgan & Co., Stereotypers

Hammond St.


[unnumbered page iii]

PREFACE.

-------------

 

THOUGHTS long struggling for utterance, and the embodi­ment of sentiments inherited from a beloved and lamented mother, have been impelled into existence, by a bill introduced by Mr. Cushing, and now before the Legislature of Ohio.

The nature of the bill, and the results to which it must eventually lead, will be better understood by the subjoined extracts:

SEC. 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Ohio, That from and after the first day of January, A. D. 1854, that no black or mulatto person, not a resident of this State, shall be per­mitted to settle or reside therein.”

    “SEC. 5. That from and after the first day of January, A. D. 1854, it shall be unlawful for any black or mulatto person, or per­sons, not residents of this State within the meaning of this act, to hold any real estate therein, either by gift, devise, or purchase, nor


[page iv]

 

 

PREFACE.

shall any real estate be held in trust, or in any other manner, for the use of such black or mulatto person, or persons, and any real estate which shall be devised or granted to such black or mulatto person, or persons, or which shall be held in trust, or otherwise, for such black or mulatto person, or persons,, shall become forfeited to the State of Ohio.”

“SEC. 7. That every black or mulatto person who shall violate any of the provisions of this act, shall be deemed guilty of an offense, and upon conviction thereof, before the Probate Court of any county in the State, upon complaint of any citizen, shall be imprisoned in the jail of the county, at hard labor, at any time not less than six nor more than twelve months, at the discretion of the court; and shall moreover be liable for the costs of prosecution:  Provided, that every ten days' residence within this State. after the first or any subsequent term of imprisonment shall expire. shall be deemed an additional and independent violation of this act.”

 

If this little Poem (by casting the Sunlight of Truth over the moral landscape) should be the means of awakening some of her countrymen to the dangers surrounding them, the object of the Author will be answered.

The smaller poems, the offspring of moments of leisure, it is hoped, will not be considered an inadmissible addition.

 


[unnumbered page 5]

 

SUNLIGHT

 

UPON

 

THE LANDSCAPE

 

---------------------

 

 

Light on the landscape -- one effulgent ray

Scatters the shadows of the night away,

Lights up the mountains, robed in living green,

Lights up the valleys, nestling close between,

Discloses pit-falls, deep and wild morass,

The dizzy precipice, and dangerous pass,

And warns the traveler, wending on his way,

To fly the peril while it yet is day.

 


[page 6]

 

And lo! the muse from Truth's bright sun would shed

Light on the moral landscape, round her spread;

Light, not alone to gild the lovely sky

And glorious valleys, which around her lie:

Light, not alone to show her land of birth

The noblest, freest nation on the earth;

But broad, deep sunlight, with such vivid ray

That every pit-fall lurking in the way,

Vast avalanches of eternal snow,

     Threatening destruction on the vale below;

Deep, yawning gulf, and hungry wild morass,

And wily-serpent stealing through the grass;

May stand exposed before the mental eye,

And warn the traveler to escape -- or die!

 

----------

 

Born in a land where smiles the summer morn

Upon luxuriant fields of golden corn;

Where the tall hemp waves gracefully in the breeze.

Like chasing billows o’er the surging seas;

 


[page 7]

 

 

Where sparkling streams in light and beauty run,

Flashing like polished mirrors in the sun;

Where noble forests proud, aspiring rise

Like lofty columns, pointing to the skies;

The giant oak, lord of the vernal realm,

The white-armed sycamore, and graceful elm;

The generous maple, that sweet juice distills,

And cedars springing from a thousand hills.

Where mammoth caves deep 'neath the soil we trace

Meet for the dwellings of a giant race­ –

Beloved Kentucky! fairest clime on earth,

Proudly I claim thee for my place of birth.

With soil so fertile, with salubrious air,

With sons so generous, daughters pure and fair;

Nature designed thee from thy primal birth

To be the Eden of admiring earth.

 

 

But ah!  a pall bangs o'er thy thousand hills,

A heavy mist above thy sparkling rills;

A voice of wailing sounds upon thy gales,

A blight is resting on thy lovely vales.

 


[page 8]

 

 

That pall -- that blight -- that voice of deep despair,

That pours its anguish on the troubled air,

Is slavery's curse -- land of the great and brave,

Break in thy wrath, the fetters of the slave;

My own Kentucky, dare -- oh, dare to be

What heaven designed -- land of the brave and free!

 

 

Chide not a sister for her daring speech,

Nor tell me, woman has no right to teach,

Ye who declare that thought and speech should be

Free as the pulses of the restless sea:

Ye who bend down to woman's gentlest nod,

And in your worship place her next to God.

Not in the stormy strife of high debate,

Not in the forum, or the halls of state:

Not at the polls 'mid politicians' jars,

Not in the bloody field and camp of Mars

Is woman's sphere -- but oh ! 'tis woman's right

In freedom's cause to even dare to fight;

Fight, with the weapon God to her has given,

The sweet, persuasive eloquence of heaven.

 


[page 9]

 

 

Hers is the right where'er the oppressed are found

To whisper comfort, bind the bleeding wound;

To raise a brother groveling in the dust,

Wake in his spirit high and holy trust;

To toil for Truth, Humanity, and Light,

This, this is woman's high and holy right.

 

 

Oh ! that my pen were touched with sacred fire,

Would but an angel sweep across my lyre,

Land of my love, in numbers high and deep,

I'd wake thy children from lethargic sleep:

Till every soul, within thy borders fair,

That quaffs thy streamlets, breathes thy genial air,

In thought, in speech, in person should be free

As the wild gales that lash the sounding sea.

 

 

I know that slavery wears its softest guise,

Belov'd Kentucky, neath thy smiling skies;

Thy temperate clime, thy plenty-bearing soil,

That pays the. laborer richly for his toil;

 


[page 10]

 

 

These, and the kind and patriarchal sway

Which serves itself -- while slaves but half obey;

With woman's heart, all nurtur’d to endure

And soothe the evils which it cannot cure;

Give to this curse a kinder, milder air,

A touch of mercy, never seen elsewhere.

 

 

But even here dark tyranny is found,

And scowling murder walks in night profound.

The lash, the chain, the prison's iron bars,

The writhing victim, with his bleeding scars:

These -- and a thousand evils, dark as night,

Sweep, like dread specters, o'er my shrinking sight;

Howl, as they pass in long funereal train,

Display their scars, and clank their galling chain.

The mother, parted from her nursing child,

The pining baby, moaning sad, and wild;

The brother, sister, parent, husband, wife,

Torn from each other, and all dear in life –

Chain’d, handcuff’d, borne unto a southern clime,

Like malefactors -- with no other crime

 


[page 11]

 

 

Than that their cheeks a darker color wore,

Than that their frames a meeker spirit bore,

Than that those who claimed, with high and boasting pride,

The Saxon blood – and Saxon soul beside.

 

 

The hunted ostrich, in the desert sand,

Hides his poor head, nor knows on either hand,

The huntsman sees his body towering rise,

And marks and wins him for an easy prize.

Long in excuses, light as desert sand,

We strove to hide the demon of our land,

Nor knew the monster huge, and vile, and dark,

Loom’d up, a target, for unerring mark;

Loom'd up, when all around was bright and fair,

A dread sirocco on the summer air­ –

Dark, blighting spot upon the sun's fair face;

A gloomy death's-head on a form of grace.

So bright the light in fair Kentucky's clime,

There is no shelter for dark slavery's crime.

Ah! well I know within thy borders fair,

Full many a heart pours out the fervent prayer,

 


[page 12]

 

 

That thou mayst be what generous heaven design'd,

The peaceful dwelling of the unfetter’d mind:

That the dark spot on thy escutcheon bright

May pale and vanish in the blaze of light.

 

 

Oh! ye who make and mend your country's laws,

Unfurl a banner in this sacred cause,

Lift up your voices eloquent and strong,

Fight for the right, do battle on the wrong.

Go: break, like Samson, all the withes that bind

The fetter'd pinions of the undying mind,

Nor let the lust of wealth, the pride of sway,

Like a Delilah, steal your strength away;

But to the slave his native rights restore,

Give him his body and his soul once more.

 

 

Say, shall this curse forever blight the soil?

Shall slaves forever groan, and sweat, end toil?

Kentucky! ever foremost in the fight,

Oh! still be foremost battling for the right.

 


[page 13]

 

 

Swear that thy land, thy glorious hills shall be

Alone the dwelling of the brave and free:

Swear that thy laws shall equal rights insure

To white and color'd, rich and humble poor:

Dare, noble State, like some proud rock to stand

The refuge for the oppress'd of every land.

 

 

Now where Ohio's waters thee divide

From sister States, along its northern side;

We cast the sun-light on the landscape bright,

And mark it basking in the cheering light,

The full effulgent light that freedom flings

In starry lusters, from her glorious wings.

Yet even here Truth's ever searching ray

Discloses pit-falls opening on the way;

Sees vampires sucking Freedom's sacred blood,

And grow, and fatten on the luscious food.

Still, like the proud and boasting Pharisee,

They thank their Maker they are not like thee.

 

 


[page 14]

 

 

But call thee robber, taunt thee loud and long,

In speech, in sermon, essay and in song;

Talk of sweet Mercy, Justice, Love and Truth,

Of free-born man and equal rights -- forsooth,

Of equal rights -- when they all rights deny

To the poor brother of a darker dye;

Shrink from his touch as from the Cobra’s dart,

With a cold shiver running through the heart:

Make laws to drive his feet from Freedom's shore;

Make laws to bind his broken chain once more:

And in their statutes write this withering ban,

This dark proscription 'gainst the color’d man:

"All men are equal, all may emigrate,

May come in masses to our growing state;

But for the son of Afric's burning strand,

We have no home, no refuge in our land"

 

Lo! Indiana foremost in the track,

Drives the poor black man from her prairies back

Room for the Saxon on her fertile soil,

Room for the German with his hand of toil;

 


[page 15]

 

 

Room for the son of Erin's trodden plains;

Room for Hungarians, Poles, and Swedes, and Danes;

Room for the white man wheresoe'er he's found,

But for the color'd, not one foot of ground.

 

 

And e'en Ohio, in her halls of state

Receives a question for a grave debate.

Lo! Cushing asks her, with ungenerous hand,

To bar the portals of her peaceful land,

To keep the moat around her deep and wide,

Close her portcullis, arm on every side;

Appoint some warrior valiant and sedate,

To stand as sentry at the fortress gate,

With musket pointed, hand upon the spring

To drive away each dark, unhallow'd thing.

Not the wild savage from his forest lair,

With war-whoop rending all the troubled air;

But the poor Afric, bow'd with care and toil,

Long the dark serf upon a southern soil,

Who claims at last, dear Freedom's blessed boon,

To call his soul and body all his own.

 

 


[page 16]

 

 

And who hath dar'd his poverty to bring,

And his dark color-vile and hideous thing;

Unto a land of liberty and light

Where laws are equal -- and where man is white!

 

Where laws are equal -- should Ohio dare

To hear, and answer Cashing s impious prayer,

A prayer insulting to a sovereign state,

With fame unsulli'd -- laws sublimely great

No longer could she boast, with honest pride,

Her equal laws -- and human heart beside!

 

 

Men of Ohio! ye who think and feel

With kindly hearts, and not with souls of steel;

Say, can you join in this unholy cause,

This sin against humanity's laws?

What! drive the black man from your fertile shore,

Should lie approach it after fifty-four;

Rob him of home, the fruit of peaceful toil,

Rob him of right to own a foot of soil,

 


[page 17]

 

 

Either "by gift, or purchase, or devise

Or held in lawful trust, or otherwise!"

What! make his lands all forfeit to the state,

Himself a prisoner 'neath a dungeon grate;

Six months of labor, weariness and toil,

And this for treading free Ohio's soil!

 

 

All minds must feel it, then deny who will

This is the spirit of the odious bill:

“Down with the slave, so long beneath the heel,

What right, what power has lie to think and feel;

What right to stand on Freedom's sacred soil,

The son of Ignorance, and ignoble Toil!

Poor, thriftless, idle, in marauding band

He'll be a robber, pauper on the land;

He's fit for slavery only, and the lash,

We want no leeches drawing on our cash.”

Ungenerous spirit! born of deepest night,

Thou stand'st affrighted 'neath a gleam of light.

Back to thy cavern haste, and with thee bear

Thy fit companion, Cushing's impious prayer;

 

 


[page 18]

 

 

Back – or the landscape bath’d in Freedom’s light,

Will dim, and darken ‘neath oppression’s night.

 

Alas for freedom! if such fruits as these

Grow on the branches of her spreading trees.

Alas for freedom! if the poor oppress'd

Find no sweet sympathy within her breast.

Alas! alas! when ye who claim to be

The great and generous, wise and truly free;

Scoff at a brother, turn in scorn away,

Because be wears a robe of darker clay.

 

But from the South and West we turn our eyes

To where the North and East before as rise:

Light on the landscape by the sunlight shed,

Shows yawning gulfs around us darkly spread.

Here, far remold from slave and slaveries stain,

They forge the rivets to his galling chain;

Make laws to bind him to a southern shore,

The slaves at birth, enslave forevermore

 

 


 

[page 19]

 

 

Furthermore – yes, should the victim fly

From the oppression of a southern sky,

They spurn him rudely from their vernal plains,

And send him back to toil, and lash, and chains.

 

 

And some, by avarice led, demurely prate

Of making laws within the Empire State,

Laws to protect the rich, sojourning white,

In goods and chattels-yea, the unholy right

Of passing slaves through Freedom's broad domains,

Loaded like felons, with their clanking chains.

Base, fawning spirits! for a golden fee

You’d sell your Freedom, Faith, Integrity.

Ye who could turn with scorn, and cold disdain

From the decision of the noble Paine,

“The laws of Nature, and the land agree

They know not slavery -- therefore man is free."*

 

Men of the North!  Not ours the guilt alone,

Though ye bend down and cast the wounding stone; 

 

 

 

 

* See Judge Paine’s decision in the New York slave case.

 


 

[page 20]

 

 

The force of custom, and attachments warm

And potent interest's ever-pleasing charm;

May to the South some faint excuse impart;

What can ye offer, for your stony heart?

Throbs there no sympathy within your breast,

No heaven-born feeling for the poor oppress'd?

Why hunt the victim o'er life's weary track,

Is he less human that his skin is black?

List! the poor slave in numbers sad and faint,

Pours in your ears his eloquent complaint.

 

 


[page 21]

 

 

THE SLAVE’S LAMENT.

----------------------------

 

I.

 

Morn breaks in the orient, with glory resplendent,

   Morn breaks on the valley, and smiles on the sea;

The birds sing their anthems of joy independent,

But there. is no joy, and no morning for me.

I awaken to toil, I awaken to sorrow,

To sigh for a blessing I may not obtain,

The present is dark, and the gloomy to-morrow

Can give no sweet promise to lessen my pain.

 

 

II.

 

Beside me a river serenely is flowing,

And gayly deck'd barges sweep over the tide;

Around me the splendid magnolia is blowing,

A coronet meet for a beautiful bride.

 

 


[page 22]

 

 

 

But I have no right on that crystalline river,

  So right to the flower that grows at my side,

For, chain'd at my task, and enthralled forever,

  They have torn the poor slave from his innocent bride.

 

III.

I far in the land where the cotton is blowing,

  Awake to my task ere the blush of the morn,

She, far in the West, where the green hemp is growing,

Now keeps for her lover in sorrow forlorn.

I haste to my cot in the hush of the even,

And pray that sweet dreams may her image restore,

I shall see her no more till I meet her in heaven,

  Where sorrow and parting shall come nevermore.

 

IV.

Our master was kind, and we serv'd him with gladness,

  But Death call'd him hence to his home in the skies;

Oh! who can portray all the slave's bitter sadness,

  His heart-crushing grief, when a good master dies!

 


[page 23]

 

 

His one only child, a fair idoliz'd daughter,

  A son of New England had won to his side;

And close by the waves of Ohio's clear water,

  Had made a fair home for his sweet southern bride.

 

                                                V.

 

But Ohio was free -- and the slave's galling fetter

And footsteps of slav'ry ne'er blighted the sod;

And the son of Now England lov'd Mammon far better

  Than Mercy and Justice, than Freedom and God.

Yes, he who had said we were men, we were brothers,

  Were sheep driven out from Humanity's fold;

Who sigh'd o'er our children and heart-broken mothers,

Like beasts in the shambles -- he sold us for gold.

 

VI.

He sold us for gold, with his coffers o'erflowing,

  He parted us far from the land we lov'd best;

Some far to the South, where the cotton is growing,

  And some far away, to the wilds of the West;

 


[page 24]

 

And men call'd him good; and his actions applauded

For he, to the world's boasting charities gave;

And he talk'd of the slave, of just rights all defrauded,

  And cursed the dark South as the home of the slave.

 

                                                VII.

 

Oh! if I am doom'd with no brilliant to-morrow,

  To drag out my life in this bondage unblest;

Then give me a master who feels for my sorrow,

  Whose breath, like my own, was first dram in the West.

But why, lovely land, o'er all others transcendent,

  Oh! glorious Republic, great, noble and brave,

Why dost thou protect and declare independent

  Every kindred on earth, but the race of the slave?

 

                                                VIII.

 

Say, how have the children of Afric offended,

And why thus pursue them o'er life's weary track.

Has the crime of our color all others transcended,

  Must we toil in our fetters -- because we are black?

 


[page 25]

 

 

Your wise sons declar'd, in their country's great charter,

  That all men, by nature, were equal and free;

Oh say, are we men -- or but chattels for barter,

Dark merchandise brought o'er the deep, rolling sea?

 

                                                IX.

 

There's a great precious volume, more priz'd than all others,

That tells of a country whose air is all balm;

Where all tribes and kindreds, shall mingle like brothers,

With garments wash'd white, in the blood of the Lamb.

Redeemer of men! when thou com'st in thy glory,

To judge all the nations, and tribes of mankind,

Remember in mercy the African's story,

And weigh, with his virtues, the fetters that bind.

 

Oh, slavery! born of tyranny and crime,

Entail'd upon us by Britannia's clime;

Thou leprous spot upon Columbia's face,

That robs the goddess of her fairest grace.

 

 

 


[page 26]

 

 

Vile, slimy reptile, nourished in our breast,

And warm'd, and nurtur'd in its place of rest;

Grown to full size, no longer chill and dead,

Behold, the horrid boa lifts its bead!

Darts out its tongue, unwinds each hideous coil,

Trails its vast length along the groaning soil,

And leaves dark desolation, gloom, and scath

And slime, on every flower along its path.

Oh! should the monster, in his fury dart,

And hug Columbia to his murderous heart,

Crush all the links which bind each glorious State,

And leave her wounded, lonely, desolate­ –

Of honor, glory, liberty despoiled,

Standing, like Marius, 'mid the ruins wild:

 

 

How could we plead for mercy from above,

How ask protection from offended love;

When we, with all the light to man e'er given,

The gentle teachings of the book of heaven;

Wisdom and knowledge, eloquence and truth.

From lips of age, from the warm heart of youth.

 


[page 27]

 

 

Still turned us coldly -- still our sanction gave

To laws which made our fellow-man a slave!

To laws which placed our brother under ban,

And made an outcast of our fellow-man!

 

 

Sons of Columbia! wheresoe'er you dwell,

Where list the chimings of the Sabbath bell,

Where'er you tread the green and fertile sod,

And bend in worship to the Christian's God:

Be ye in north or south, in east or west,

By the Atlantic or Pacific's breast:

Where Maine's dark forests wave their warrior pines,

Where California gleams with golden mines;

Join in this prayer, a patriot well may pray:

 

 

"Keep us, Oh, Father! in thy righteous way:

A band of brothers ever let us stand,

And drive, united, from our happy land

Oppression, tyranny, and slavery's crime,

The stain that shadows all our laws sublime.

 

 


[page 28]

 

 

Oh! fill our hearts with wisdom from above,

With sweet humanity and gentle love;

That, like the children of one mother mild,

All joined in feeling, warm and undefil'd,

A brother's sorrow, and a brother's sin,

May our compassion, our forgiveness win.

And, gracious Father, let no parricide,

The chain that binds our glorious States, divide;

But, still, like brothers, at the end of time

In love united -- may we stand sublime."

 


[unnumbered page 29]

 

 

 

 

MISCELLANEOUS POEMS.

 

 


[unnumbered page 30]

 

[blank]

 


[unnumbered page 31]

 

 

 

THE SEA.

 

The sea, the sea, the glorious sea!

With billows flashing in the light,

And breezes blowing wild and free,

Now bursts upon my raptured sight;

I stand upon Nahant's wild shore

And list the solemn breakers' roar.

 

 

Vision of beauty, glory, power,

How have I yearn'd to gaze on thee;

How have I mused full many an hour

Upon the wonders of the sea:

How longed to stand upon thy shore

  And hear the solemn breakers' roar.

 

 


[page 32]

 

 

And now thy waters, blue and bright,

Which seem to meet and kiss the sky;

Thy bright waves dancing in the light,

The isles, which on thy bosom lie­

Before me in their beauty beam,

  Like the creations of a dream.

 

 

Fair barks from many a distant clime,

With white sails fluttering in the wind,

Move to the waves' melodious chime,

And leave a path of light behind:

Bound (like some holy pilgrim band)

  Unto the lovely promised land.

 

 

Ye waves that sparkle clear and bright,

And winds as soft as music's breath,

How awful are ye in your might,

The trump, the larum-peal of death –

When o'er the wild and thundering tides

The tempest in its fury rides.

 


[page 33]

 

 

Down, down within thy waters deep.

And rock'd within thy clasping waves,

How many loved and gentle sleep

Serenely, in their ocean-graves:

Thy rocks -- their proud sepulchral stone,

Their dirge -- thy never-ceasing moan.

 

 

When gathering from thy pebbly side

The shells that pave the sparkling floor,

Brought hither by thy swelling tide,

And left upon the sandy shore;

I think of that great day of dread,

When thou shalt too, give up thy dead.

 

 

Oh!  thus, while gazing on thy tide,

  Thoughts far too deep to be express’d

Thoughts, to infinity allied,

  Are welling upward in my breast;

For who can gaze on thee, proud sea,

Nor muse upon eternity!

 


[page 34]

 

Yes, who can look upon thy wave

That seem to touch the arching sky,

Thy soundless depths, thy awful caves,

The winds which o'er thy bosom fly –

­Nor muse on Him whose mighty hand

Parted the water from the land.

 


[unnumbered page 35]

 

 

PATRIOTISM.

----------------

 

 

THE noble heart that yearns

For home -- when far away from bower and hearth­

Whose every pulse with patriot fervor barns,

When memory paints the dear land of his birth:

 

Oh! clasp his open hand –

His is a generous heart, from falsehood free.

True to his youthful friends, his native land.

That noble spirit will be true to thee!

 


[unnumbered page 36]

 

 

THE INFANT SLAVE.

 

I hear a voice of wailing,

  A low and plaintive tone,

Beneath yon humble cabin roof

  A baby weeps alone.

Alone, and, Oh! so sadly,

  With such a touching cry,

That none, methinks, could hear it weep

  Without a heart-wrung sigh.

 

 

No gentle form is nursing

The babe upon its breast;

No tender mother watching o'er,

Or hushing it to rest.

 


[page 37]

 

 

But weary, sick, and pining,

  With low and plaintive moan,

Upon its cold and cheerless bed,

The baby weeps alone.

 

 

Where is the tender mother

  Who nurs'd it on her breast,

Where is the kind and gentle voice

  That hush'd the babe to rest!
Lies she, in death's deep slumber,

  Low in the silent grave!
Ah no! a harder lot is hers,

That mother is a slave!

 

 

They tore her from her infant,

They sent her far away,

To where a burning southern sun

Pours down its scorching ray.

All manacled in irons.

With many a bitter groan,

The poor heart-broken mother pass'd

And left her babe alone.

 

 


[page 38]

 

 

Oh! who can paint her anguish

All passionate and wild,

When to her crush'd and bleeding heart

She press'd her gentle child;

And felt the babe so cherish'd,

  Robb'd of its nearest friend,
Upon the cold and grudging care

Of strangers must depend.

 

 

Oh ye who stand all coldly

And see the slave depart,

Who tear the baby from her breast,

The lifeblood from her heart;

Who deem the sighs unreal

   That rend the quivering breast,
And say that grief within her heart

Will be a transient guest;

 

 

Go to her land of exile

  With that poor blighted heart.

Mark how, when at her weary task,

The tears unbidden start:

 


[page 39]

 

 

How when her new companions

Sing songs of merry tone,

Still musing on her cherish'd babe,

She turns, and weeps alone.

 

 

Stand by that baby's cradle,

Its low, untended bed,

Behold the pining, unwean'd child,

On food unwholesome fed.

Then ask yourselves, Has Heaven

   One gleam of mercy mild,

For those who part the mother

 From her poor nursing child!

 

 

We know the mother's sorrow,

  The infant's plaintive moan,

Are borne by pitying angel-bands

  To our Redeemer's throne;
And Oh! we know, not always

  Bound in his heavy chain,

The poor, down-trodden, lowly slave,

Will cry to him in vain.

 


[unnumbered page 40]

 

 

STANZAS.

--------------

 

 

Tell me not, tell me not, that the land of my birth,

The fairest, and loveliest land on the earth,

Doth hear, all unmov'd, through her glorious domains,

The cry of oppression, and clanking of chains.

Ah no! her deep heart with emotion is stirr'd,

And a voice like the swell of the tempest is heard,

Ringing out, ringing out from her forests of pines,

Sending back a response from her country of mines:

 

 

Sonorous and deep, as a bell's solemn chime,

From the land of the orange, magnolia and lime;

And thrilling and clear, where the sun sinks to rest

On his canopi'd conch, in the beautiful West.

 


[page 41]

 

 

And that voice -- hearken all, to the eloquent strain,

It speaks to the gentle, the kind, the humane;

It speaks to the noble, the generous, the brave,

And pleads the just cause of the down-trodden Slave.

 

 

Our fair, youngest sister, the lamb of the fold,

Who hath valleys of wealth, who hath mountains of gold,

California hears -- and her statutes declare,

The breath of the slave shall not poison her air.

The West hears the voice with a thrill of delight,

And the South wakens up from her torpor and night;

For the tremor of life stirs the plumes of her wing,

Like the shiver of leaves by the breath of the spring.

 

 

Back, back to your caverns, ye doubters, depart,

There is life, there is hope, for the valiant of heart;

And the day will soon dawn -- l! it breaks in the sky,

The first roseate sunbeam, now gleams on the eye;


[page 42]

 

 

When oppression shall melt from our valleys away,

Like castles of frost in the sun's vivid ray,

When the groan of the slave, and the clank of his chains

No more shall be heard in Columbia's domains.

 


[unnumbered page 43]

 

 

PSALM CXXXVII.

------------------------

 

 

We sat where Babel's waters glide,

And thought on Zion's lovely vales;

Our sad tears mingled in the tide,

Our sighs swell'd mournful on the gales

 

 

Our harps, of sweet melodious sound,

That oft with Zion's songs had rung;

On willow trees that wept around,

In that dark hour of grief we hung.

 

 

For they who led us far away

  Sad captives from our native plains,

Called on us for a mirthful lay –

For one of Zion’s lofty strains.

 


[page 44]

 

 

How shall we sing Jehovah’s song,

How wake our harps from mournful sleep,

While, captive bands, we stray along,

And in a land of strangers weep?

 

If I'm forgetful e'er of thee,

Jerusalem, my youthful home,

Then let my right-hand powerless be

  As the cold tenant of the tomb.

 

 

If ever in this faithful breast

The memory of thy joys are o'er,

Oh I let my tongue in silence rest,

My voice be beard on earth no more.

 

 


[unnumbered page 45]

 

 

 

FLOWER OF THE AIR.

------------------------------

 

 

There is a flower of scarlet hue

That 'neath the tropic skies hath birth,

Without the heaven's refreshing dew,

Without the nursing breast of earth,

Still buds and blooms divinely fair

Suspended in the ambient air.

 

 

Flower of air! the hand unseen

That fills thy cup with nectar-showers,

That paints thy leaves with glossy green,

With scarlet hue, thy gorgeous flowers;

That hand upholds the worlds of light,

    That sparkle in the dome of night.

 

 


[page 46]

 

Flower of air! could we but fling

The glittering dross of earth aside,

Mount up on Faith's triumphant wing

And rest on Him, the Crucified –

Like thee, we'd bathe in streams of love

And feast on manna from above.

 

 


[unnumbered page 47]

 

 

 

THE VIOLET.

-----------------

 

"An odor of sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God.”  1 Phil. iv, 18.

 

 

Thou art not hidden, lovely violet,

  For thy breath, so odorous sweet,

Floating o'er yon emerald islet,

  Doth betray thy green retreat.

There thy form bends meek and lowly,

Trembling in the winds' low sighs,

And bright tears, all pure and holy,

Now suffuse thy gentle eyes.

 

Yet thy azure urn is lending

  Incense to each passing gale,

Soft as dews of heaven descending

  On the scorched and thirsty plain.

 

 


[page 48]

 

 

Thus, Religion's gentle daughter

Mooreth fast her modest bark,

Close beside the living water,

Flowing from the eternal ark.

 

For the sins of earth she mourneth,

Turneth from the flatterer's art,

While perpetual incense burneth

On the altar of her heart.

 

 

And that incense, sweet and holy,

Like the violet's breath, shall rise

Upward, from its altar lowly,

"A well-pleasing sacrifice."

 

 

 

THE END.