Page images

And is it Christian England cheers

The bruiser, not the bruised ? And must she run, despite the tears And prayers of eighteen hundred years,

A-muck in Slavery's crusade?

O black disgrace! O shame and loss

Too deep for tongue to phrase on! Tear from your flag its holy cross, And in your van of battle toss

The pirate's skull-bone blazon !

[graphic][ocr errors][merged small]




I THEN first I saw our banner wave

Y Above the nation's council-hall,

I heard beneath its marble wall The clanking fetters of the slave!

In the foul market-place I stood,

And saw the Christian mother sold,

And childhood with its locks of gold, Blue-eyed and fair with Saxon blood.

I shut my eyes, I held my breath,

And, smothering down the wrath and shame

That set my Northern blood aflame, Stood silent — where to speak was death.

Beside me gloomed the prison-cell

Where wasted one in slow decline

For uttering simple words of mine, And loving freedom all too well.

The flag that floated from the dome

Flapped menace in the morning air ;

I stood a perilled stranger where The human broker made his home.

For crime was virtue: Gown and Sword

And Law their threefold sanction gave,

And to the quarry of the slave Went hawking with our symbol-bird.

On the oppressor's side was power;

And yet I knew that every wrong,

However old, however strong, But waited God's avenging hour.

I knew that truth would crush the lie, —

Somehow, some time, the end would be;

Yet scarcely dared I hope to see The triumph with my mortal eye.

But now I see it! In the sun

A free flag floats from yonder dome,

And at the nation's hearth and home The justice long delayed is done.

Not as we hoped, in calm of prayer,

The message of deliverance comes,

But heralded by roll of drums On waves of battle-troubled air !

'Midst sounds that madden and appall,

The song that Bethlehem's shepherds knew!

The harp of David melting through The demon-agonies of Saul !

Not as we hoped ; — but what are we?

Above our broken dreams and plans God lays, with wiser hand than man's, The corner-stones of liberty.

I cavil not with Him: the voice

That freedom's blessed gospel tells

Is sweet to me as silver bells, Rejoicing! — yea, I will rejoice !

Dear friends still toiling in the sun,

Ye dearer ones who, gone before, Are watching from the eternal shore The slow work by your hands begun,

« PreviousContinue »