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Anti-Slavery Poems
Paean

by John Greenleaf Whittier

This poem indicates the exultation of the anti-slavery party in view of
the revolt of the friends of Martin Van Buren in New York, from the
Democratic Presidential nomination in 1848.

Now, joy and thanks forevermore!
The dreary night has wellnigh passed,
The slumbers of the North are o'er,
The Giant stands erect at last!

More than we hoped in that dark time
When, faint with watching, few and worn,
We saw no welcome day-star climb
The cold gray pathway of the morn!

O weary hours! O night of years!
What storms our darkling pathway swept,
Where, beating back our thronging fears,
By Faith alone our march we kept.

How jeered the scoffing crowd behind,
How mocked before the tyrant train,
As, one by one, the true and kind
Fell fainting in our path of pain!

They died, their brave hearts breaking slow,
But, self-forgetful to the last,
In words of cheer and bugle blow
Their breath upon the darkness passed.

A mighty host, on either hand,
Stood waiting for the dawn of day
To crush like reeds our feeble band;
The morn has come, and where are they?

Troop after troop their line forsakes;
With peace-white banners waving free,
And from our own the glad shout breaks,
Of Freedom and Fraternity!

Like mist before the growing light,
The hostile cohorts melt away;
Our frowning foemen of the night
Are brothers at the dawn of day.

As unto these repentant ones
We open wide our toil-worn ranks,
Along our line a murmur runs
Of song, and praise, and grateful thanks.

Sound for the onset! Blast on blast!
Till Slavery's minions cower and quail;
One charge of fire shall drive them fast
Like chaff before our Northern gale!

O prisoners in your house of pain,
Dumb, toiling millions, bound and sold,
Look! stretched o'er Southern vale and plain,
The Lord's delivering hand behold!

Above the tyrant's pride of power,
His iron gates and guarded wall,
The bolts which shattered Shinar's tower
Hang, smoking, for a fiercer fall.

Awake! awake! my Fatherland!
It is thy Northern light that shines;
This stirring march of Freedom's band
The storm-song of thy mountain pines.

Wake, dwellers where the day expires!
And hear, in winds that sweep your lakes
And fan your prairies' roaring fires,
The signal-call that Freedom makes!

1848.
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