Black History Month – Day 21

Antislavery Poems by John Greenleaf Whittier

Negro Boatman

SONG OF THE NEGRO BOATMEN.

Oh, praise an’ tanks! De Lord he come
To set de people free;
An’ massa tink it day ob doom,
An’ we ob jubilee.
De Lord dat heap de Red Sea waves
He jus’ as ‘trong as den;
He say de word: we las’ night slaves;
To-day, de Lord’s freemen.
De yam will grow, de cotton blow,
We’ll hab de rice an’ corn;
Oh nebber you fear, if nebber you hear
De driver blow his horn!
Ole massa on he trabbels gone
He leaf de land behind:
De Lord’s breff blow him furder on,
Like corn-shuck in de wind.
We own de hoe, we own de plough,
We own de hands dat hold;
We sell de pig, we sell de cow,
But nebber chile be sold.
De yam will grow, de cotton blow,
We’ll hab de rice an’ corn;
Oh nebber you fear, if nebber you hear
De driver blow his horn!
We pray de Lord: he gib us signs
Dat some clay we be free;
De norf-wind tell it to de pines,
De wild-duck to de sea;
We tink it when de church-bell ring,
We dream it in de dream;
De rice-bird mean it when he sing,
De eagle when he scream.
De yam will grow, de cotton blow,
We’ll hab de rice an’ corn:
Oh nebber you fear, if nebber you hear
De driver blow his horn!
We know de promise nebber fail,
An’ nebber lie de word;
So like de ‘postles in de jail,
We waited for de Lord
An’ now he open ebery door,
An’ trow away de key;
He tink we lub him so before,
We lub him better free.
De yam will grow, de cotton blow,
He’ll gib de rice an’ corn;
Oh nebber you fear, if nebber you hear
De driver blow his horn!
So sing our dusky gondoliers;
And with a secret pain,
And smiles that seem akin to tears,
We hear the wild refrain.
We dare not share the negro’s trust,
Nor yet his hope deny;
We only know that God is just,
And every wrong shall die.
Rude seems the song; each swarthy face,
Flame-lighted, ruder still:
We start to think that hapless race
Must shape our good or ill;
That laws of changeless justice bind
Oppressor with oppressed;
And, close as sin and suffering joined,
We march to Fate abreast.
Sing on, poor hearts! your chant shall be
Our sign of blight or bloom,
The Vala-song of Liberty,
Or death-rune of our doom!
Our_Countrymen_in_Chains
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About sjwoods318

Mother of six children - five girls and one boy; wife; community organizer, family chauffeur, philosopher, trans-racial adoptee, Deadhead, person of mixed racial heritage, artist, poet, writer who loves to swim, read, and run around with my family.
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