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4.5.1: “To the First Slave Ship” (1827)

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    First of that train which cursed the wave
    And from the rifled cabin bore
    Inheritor of wo,—the slave
    To bless his palm tree’s shade no more

    Dire engine!—o’er the troubled main
    Borne on in unresisted state,—
    Know’st thou within thy dark domain
    The secrets of thy prison’d freight?—

    Hear’st thou their moans whom hope hath fled?—
    Wild cries in agonizing starts?—
    Know’st thou thy humid sails are spread
    With ceaseless sighs from broken hearts?—

    The fetter’d chieftain’s burning tear,—
    The parted lover’s mute despair,—
    The childless mother’s pang severe,—
    The orphan’s misery are there

    Ah!—could’st thou from the scroll of fate
    The annal read of future years
    Stripes,—tortures,—unrelenting hate,
    And death-gasps drown’d in slavery’s tears,

    Down,—down,—beneath the cleaving main
    Thou fain would’st plunge where monsters lie,
    Rather than ope the gates of pain
    For time and for Eternity.—

    Oh Afric!—what has been thy crime?—
    That thus like Eden’s fratricide,
    A mark is set upon thy clime,
    And every brother shuns thy side.—

    Yet are thy wrongs thou long distrest!—
    Thy burdens, by the world unweigh’d,
    Safe in that Unforgetful Breast
    Where all the sins of earth are laid.—

    Poor outcast slave!—Our guilty land
    Should tremble while she drinks thy tears,
    Or sees in vengeful silence stand,
    The beacon of thy shorten’d years;—

    Should shrink to hear her sons proclaim
    The sacred truth that heaven is just,—
    Shrink even at her Judge’s name,—
    “Jehovah,—Saviour of the opprest.”

    The Sun upon thy forehead frown’d,
    But Man more cruel far than he,
    Dark fetters on thy spirit bound:—
    Look to the mansions of the free!

    Look to that realm where chains unbind,—
    Where the pale tyrant drops his rod,
    And where the patient sufferers find
    A friend,—a father in their God

    4.5.1: “To the First Slave Ship” (1827) is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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