Before him, like a blood-red flag,
The bright flamingoes flew;
From morn till night he followed their flight,
O’er plains where the tamarind grew,
Till he saw the roofs of Caffre huts,
And the ocean rose to view.
At night he heard the lion roar,
And the hyena scream,
And the river-horse, as he crushed the reeds
Beside some hidden stream;
And it passed, like a glorious roll of drums,
Through the triumph of his dream.
The forests, with their myriad tongues,
Shouted of liberty;
And the Blast of the Desert cried aloud,
With a voice so wild and free,
That he started in his sleep and smiled
At their tempestuous glee.
He did not feel the driver’s whip,
Nor the burning heat of day;
For Death had illumined the Land of Sleep,
And his lifeless body lay
A worn-out fetter, that the soul
Had broken and thrown away!
THE GOOD PART
THAT SHALL NOT BE TAKEN AWAY
She dwells by Great Kenhawa’s side,
In valleys green and cool;
And all her hope and all her pride
Are in the village school.
Her soul, like the transparent air
That robes the hills above,
Though not of earth, encircles there
All things with arms of love.
And thus she walks among her girls
With praise and mild rebukes;
Subduing e’en rude village churls
By her angelic looks.
She reads to them at eventide
Of One who came to save;
To cast the captive’s chains aside
And liberate the slave.
And oft the blessed time foretells
When all men shall be free;
And musical, as silver bells,
Their falling chains shall be.
And following her beloved Lord,
In decent poverty,
She makes her life one sweet record
And deed of charity.
For she was rich, and gave up all
To break the iron bands
Of those who waited in her hall,
And labored in her lands.
Long since beyond the Southern Sea
Their outbound sails have sped,
While she, in meek humility,
Now earns her daily bread.
It is their prayers, which never cease,
That clothe her with such grace;
Their blessing is the light of peace
That shines upon her face.
THE SLAVE IN THE DISMAL SWAMP
In dark fens of the Dismal Swamp
The hunted Negro lay;
He saw the fire of the midnight camp,
And heard at times a horse’s tramp
And a bloodhound’s distant bay.
Where will-o’-the-wisps and glow-worms shine,
In bulrush and in brake;
Where waving mosses shroud the pine,
And the cedar grows, and the poisonous vine
Is spotted like the snake;
Where hardly a human foot could pass,
Or a human heart would dare,
On the quaking turf of the green morass
He crouched in the rank and tangled grass,
Like a wild beast in his lair.