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There to-night shall woman's glances,
Seek to touch their garments' hem,
With the tongue of flattery glozing deeds which God and Truth condemn.
From this glittering lie my vision
Takes a broader, sadder range,
Full before me have arisen
Other pictures dark and strange;
From the parlor to the prison must the scene and witness change.
Hark! the heavy gate is swinging
On its hinges, harsh and slow;
One pale prison lamp is flinging
On a fearful group below
Such a light as leaves to terror whatsoe'er it does not show.
Pitying God! Is that a WOMAN
On whose wrist the shackles clash?
Is that shriek she utters human,
Underneath the stinging lash?
Are they MEN whose eyes of madness from that sad procession flash?
Still the dance goes gayly onward!
That without the stars are looking
On a scene which earth should hide?
That the SLAVE-SHIP lies in waiting, rocking on Potomac's tide!
Vainly to that mean Ambition
Which, upon a rival's fall,
With a reptile's slimy crawl,
Shall the pleading voice of sorrow, shall the slave in anguish
Vainly to the child of Fashion,
Giving to ideal woe
Graceful luxury of compassion,
Shall the stricken mourner go;
Hateful seems the earnest sorrow, beautiful the hollow show!
Nay, my words are all too sweeping;
In this crowded human mart,
Feeling is not dead, but sleeping;
Man's strong will and woman's heart,
In the coming strife for Freedom, yet shall bear their generous part.
And from yonder sunny valleys,
Worthier than the North can boast,
With the Evil by their hearth-stones grappling at severer cost.
Now, the soul alone is willing.
Faint the heart and weak the knee;
And as yet no lip is thrilling
With the mighty words "BE FREE!"
Tarrieth long the land's Good Angel, but his advent is to be!
Meanwhile, turning from the reve1
To the prison-cell my sight,
For intenser hate of evil,
For a keener sense of right,
Shaking off thy dust, I thank thee, City of the Slaves, to-night!
"To thy duty now and ever!
Dream no more of rest or stay;
All thou art and hast to-day":
Thus, above the city's murmur, saith a Voice, or seems to say.
Ye with heart and vision gifted
Whose worn faces have been lifted
To the slowly-growing light,
Where from Freedom's sunrise drifted slowly back the murk of night!
Ye who through long years of trial
And of hope each hour's denial seemed an echo of the last!
O my brothers !'O my sisters!
Would to God that ye were near,
Gazing with me down the vistas
Of a sorrow strange and drear;
Would to God that ye were listeners to the Voice I seem to hear!
With the storm above us driving,
With the false earth mined below
We have counted friend as foe;
Unto one another giving in the darkness blow for blow.
Well it may be that our natures
Have grown sterner and more hard,
And the freshness of their features
Somewhat harsh and battle-scarred,
And their harmonies of feeling overtasked and rudely jarred.
Be it so. It should not swerve us
Than the pastime of the slave;
Better is the storm above it than the quiet of the grave.
Let us then, uniting, bury
All our idle feuds in dust,
And to future conflicts carry
Mutual faith and common trust;
Always he who most forgiveth in his brother is most just.
From the eternal shadow rounding
Bid us be of heart and cheer,
Through the silence, down the spaces, falling on the inward ear.
Know we not our dead are looking
With their mild and loving eyes ?
Shall we grieve the holy angels? Shall we cloud their blessed skies?
Let us draw their mantles o'er us
Which have fallen in our way;
Let us do the work before us,
Cheerly, bravely, while we may,
Ere the long night-sifence cometh, and with us it is not day!
"ROM Yorktown's ruins, ranked and still,
Two lines stretch far o'er vale and hill:
The earth which bears this calm array
October's clear and noonday sun
Now all is hushed: the gleaming lines
Nor thou alone: with one glad voice
While they who hunt her quail with fear :
But who are they, who, cowering, wait
Classed with the battle's common spoil,
O, veil your faces, young and brave!