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Poetry: The Slave's Dream

Poetry: The Slave's Dream image
Parent Issue
Public Domain
Additional Text

First published in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's pamphlet Poems on Slavery, Cambridge: John Owen, 1842.

OCR Text

Be8de tli' ungathered rice he lay, Ilis sickle in iiis hand; His brcast was bare, hts mattcd hair, Was buricil in the snnd. Agntn. in the mist and sliadow of sleep, He saw his nativo land. "Wide through the Inndsoape of liis dreanis, The lordly Niger flowcd; Beneath the palm-t.ces on the plain, Once more a king he slrodc, And heard the tinkling caravans, Desccnd the mountain-road.He saw once more liis dnrk-eycd queen, Among her children stand; Tliey cl.ispcd lita neck, they kissed liis chceks, They held liini by thc hand! - And tears burst from the slccpei's iidt, And tell lito thc sand. And then at furious 6peed he rodo Alone tlie Nigcr's bank: líis bridle-rcins nrc golden chains, And, wittl a tnartinl clank, At each lean he could feel his senbbard of steel, Smiiing his stalüon's flank. Beforc him, like a blood-rcd flag, The bright finniineoosflew; From morn till night he íollowed iheir flight, O'er plañís where the tiímirind grew, Till he snw the roofsjofCaflre huta. And the occan rose to view. At night he heard the lion roar, And the liycnn scream, And the river horse, as hecruslied thc rceds, ' Beside somc miden strenni: Asit pnssed, like a gloriousroll of drums, Throug'i the triumph oí his dream.The forests, with thcirm)riad longues, Shouted of Iibcrty; And the Blast of the Desert cricd aloud, Wiih a voice so wild nnd free, Thathc startcd in liis sleep, and smiled At their tempestuous glee! He did not feel tlie driver's wliip, Nor the burning heat of day; For Death had illumed the Land of Sleep, And In's lifclcss body lay A worn-out fetter, ihat the soul Had broken and thrown nivay!