Our Countrymen In Chains!
by John Greenleaf Whittier (1837) OUR FELLOW COUNTRYMEN IN CHAINS! SLAVES
â€”in a land of light and law !â€” SLAVES
â€”crouching on the very plains
Where rolled the storm of Freedom's war !
A groan from Eutaw's haunted woodâ€”
A wail where Camden's martyr's fellâ€”
By every shrine of patriot blood,
From Moultrie's wall and Jasper's well !
By storied hill and hallowed grot,
By mossy wood and marshy glen,
Whence rang of old the rifle shot,
And hurrying shout of Marion's men !â€”
The groan of breaking hearts is thereâ€”
The falling lashâ€”the fetter's clank !â€” Slaves
are breathing in that air
Which old De Kalb and Sumpter drank !
What, ho !â€”our
countrymen in chains !â€”
The whip on WOMAN'S
shrinking flesh ! Our
soil yet reddening with the stains,
Caught from her scourging, warm and fresh !
What ! mothers from their children riven !â€”
What ! God's own image bought and sold !â€” AMERICANS
to market driven,
And bartered as the brute for gold !
Speak !â€”shall their agony of prayer
Come thrilling to our hearts in vain !
To usâ€”whose fathers scorned to bear
The paltry menace
of a chain ;â€”
To us whose boast is loud and long
Of holy liberty and lightâ€”
Say, shall these writhing slaves of Wrong
Plead vainly for their plundered Right ?
What !â€”shall we send, with lavish breath,
Our sympathies across the wave,
Where manhood on the field of death
Strikes for his freedom, or a grave ?â€”
Shall prayers go upâ€”and hymns be sung
For Greece, the Moslem fetter spurningâ€”
And millions hail with pen and tongue Our
light on all her altars burning !
Shall Belgium feel, and gallant France,
By Vendome's pile and Schoenbrun's wall
And Poland, gasping on her lance,
The impulse of our cheering call ?
And shall the SLAVE
, beneath our eye,
Clank o'er our
fields his hateful chain ?
And toss his fettered arm on high,
And groan for freedom's gift, in vain ?
Oh say, shall Prussia's banner be
A refuge for the stricken slave ;â€”
And shall the Russian serf go free
By Baikal's lake and Neva's wave ;â€”
And shall the wintry-bosomed Dane
Relax the iron hand of pride,
And bid his bondmen cast the chain
From fettered soul and limb, aside ?
Shall every flap of England's flag*
Proclaim that all around are free,
From 'fartherst Ind' to each blue crag
That beetles o'er the Western Sea ?
And shall we scoff at Europe's kings,
When Freedom's fire is dim with us,
And round our country's altar clings
The damning shade of Slavery's curse ?
Goâ€”let us ask of Constantine
To loose his grasp on Poland's throatâ€”
And beg the lord of Mahmoud's line
To spare the struggling Suliote.
Will not the scorching answer come
From turbaned Turk, and fiery Russâ€”
'Go, loose your fettered slaves at home,
Then turn and ask the like of us !'
Just God ! and shall we calmly rest,
The christian's scornâ€”the heathen's mirthâ€”
Content to live the lingering jest
And by word of a mocking earth ?
Shall our own glorious land retain
That curse which Europe seems to bear ?
Shall our own brethren drag the chain
Which not even Russia's menials wear ?
Up, then, in Freedom's manly part,
From gray-beard old to fiery youth,
And on the nation's naked heart
Scatter the living coals of Truth.
Upâ€”while ye slumber, deeper yet
The shadow of our fame is growingâ€”
Upâ€”While ye pause, our sun may set
In blood, around our altars flowing !
Oh rouse ye, ere the storm comes forthâ€”
The gathered wrath of God and manâ€”
Like that which wasted Egypt's earth,
When hail and fire above it ran.
Hear ye no warnings in the air ?
Feel ye no earthquake underneath ?
Upâ€”upâ€”why will ye slumber where
The sleeper only wakes in death ?
for Freedom !â€”not in strife
Like that your sterner fathers saw
The awful waste of human lifeâ€”
The glory and the guilt of war :
But break the chainâ€”the yoke remove
And smite to earth oppression's rod,
With those mild arms of Truth and Love,
Made mighty through the living God !
Prone let the shrine of Moloch sink,
And leave no traces where it stood
Nor longer let its idol drink
His daily cup of human blood :
Bur rear another altar there,
To truth and love and mercy given,
And Freedom's gift and Freedom's prayer
Shall call an answer down from Heaven !
post edited by Scar Tactics - 2007/06/29 14:06:28