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Anti-Slavery Poems
___Voice of New England

by John Greenleaf Whittier

The five poems immediately following indicate the intense feeling of the
friends of freedom in view of the annexation of Texas, with its vast
territory sufficient, as was boasted, for six new slave States.

Up the hillside, down the glen,
Rouse the sleeping citizen;
Summon out the might of men!

Like a lion growling low,
Like a night-storm rising slow,
Like the tread of unseen foe;

It is coming, it is nigh!
Stand your homes and altars by;
On your own free thresholds die.

Clang the bells in all your spires;
On the gray hills of your sires
Fling to heaven your signal-fires.

From Wachuset, lone and bleak,
Unto Berkshire's tallest peak,
Let the flame-tongued heralds speak.

Oh, for God and duty stand,
Heart to heart and hand to hand,
Round the old graves of the land.

Whoso shrinks or falters now,
Whoso to the yoke would bow,
Brand the craven on his brow!

Freedom's soil hath only place
For a free and fearless race,
None for traitors false and base.

Perish party, perish clan;
Strike together while ye can,
Like the arm of one strong man.

Like that angel's voice sublime,
Heard above a world of crime,
Crying of the end of time;

With one heart and with one mouth,
Let the North unto the South
Speak the word befitting both.

"What though Issachar be strong
Ye may load his back with wrong
Overmuch and over long:

"Patience with her cup o'errun,
With her weary thread outspun,
Murmurs that her work is done.

"Make our Union-bond a chain,
Weak as tow in Freedom's strain
Link by link shall snap in twain.

"Vainly shall your sand-wrought rope
Bind the starry cluster up,
Shattered over heaven's blue cope!

"Give us bright though broken rays,
Rather than eternal haze,
Clouding o'er the full-orbed blaze.

"Take your land of sun and bloom;
Only leave to Freedom room
For her plough, and forge, and loom;

"Take your slavery-blackened vales;
Leave us but our own free gales,
Blowing on our thousand sails.

"Boldly, or with treacherous art,
Strike the blood-wrought chain apart;
Break the Union's mighty heart;

"Work the ruin, if ye will;
Pluck upon your heads an ill
Which shall grow and deepen still.

"With your bondman's right arm bare,
With his heart of black despair,
Stand alone, if stand ye dare!

"Onward with your fell design;
Dig the gulf and draw the line
Fire beneath your feet the mine!

"Deeply, when the wide abyss
Yawns between your land and this,
Shall ye feel your helplessness.

"By the hearth, and in the bed,
Shaken by a look or tread,
Ye shall own a guilty dread.

"And the curse of unpaid toil,
Downward through your generous soil
Like a fire shall burn and spoil.

"Our bleak hills shall bud and blow,
Vines our rocks shall overgrow,
Plenty in our valleys flow;--

"And when vengeance clouds your skies,
Hither shall ye turn your eyes,
As the lost on Paradise!

"We but ask our rocky strand,
Freedom's true and brother band,
Freedom's strong and honest hand;

"Valleys by the slave untrod,
And the Pilgrim's mountain sod,
Blessed of our fathers' God!"

1844.
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