Frances Ellen Watkins Harper ( )

Eliza Harris

Like a fawn from the arrow, startled and wild,
A woman swept by us, bearing a child;
In her eye was the night of a settled despair,
And her brow was oershaded with anguish and care.

She was nearing the riverin reaching the brink,
She heeded no danger, she paused not to think!
For she is a motherher child is a slave
And shell give him his freedom, or find him a grave!

Twas a vision to haunt us, that innocent face
So pale in its aspect, so fair in its grace;
As the tramp of the horse and the bay of the hound,
With the fetters that gall, were trailing the ground!

She was nerved by despair, and strengthend by woe,
As she leapd oer the chasms that yawnd from below;
Death howld in the tempest, and ravd in the blast,
But she heard not the sound till the danger was past.

Oh! how shall I speak of my proud countrys shame?
Of the stains on her glory, how give them their name?
How say that her banner in mockery waves
Her star-spangled banneroer millions of slaves?

How say that the lawless may torture and chase
A woman whose crime is the hue of her face?
How the depths of forest may echo around
With the shrieks of despair, and the bay of the hound?

With her step on the ice, and her arm on her child,
The danger was fearful, the pathway was wild;
But, aided by Heaven, she gained a free shore,
Where the friends of humanity opend their door.

So fragile and lovely, so fearfully pale,
Like a lily that bends to the breath of the gale,
Save the heave of her breast, and the sway of her hair,
Youd have thought her a statue of fear and despair.

In agony close to her bosom she pressd
The life of her heart, the child of her breast:
Oh! love from its tenderness gathering might,
Had strengthend her soul for the dangers of flight.

But shes free!yes, free from the land where the slave
From the hand of oppression must rest in the grave;
Where bondage and torture, where scourges and chains
Have placd on our banner indelible stains.

The bloodhounds have missd the scent of her way;
The hunter is rifled and foild of his prey;
Fierce jargon and cursing, with clanking of chains,
Make sounds of strange discord on Libertys plains.

With the rapture of love and fullness of bliss,
She placd on his brow a mothers fond kiss:
Oh! poverty, danger and death she can brave,
For the child of her love is no longer a slave!

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper's other poems:
  1. My Mother's Kiss
  2. President Lincoln's Proclamation of Freedom
  3. A Double Standard
  4. Learning to Read
  5. Bury Me in a Free Land

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