HumanitiesWeb.org - Anti-Slavery Poems (___To Samuel E. Sewall and Harriet W. Sewall, of Melrose) by John Greenleaf Whittier
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Anti-Slavery Poems
___To Samuel E. Sewall and Harriet W. Sewall, of Melrose

by John Greenleaf Whittier

These lines to my old friends stood as dedication in the volume which
contained a collection of pieces under the general title of In War Time.
The group belonging distinctly under that title I have retained here;
the other pieces in the volume are distributed among the appropriate
divisions.

Olor Iscanus queries: "Why should we
Vex at the land's ridiculous miserie?"
So on his Usk banks, in the blood-red dawn
Of England's civil strife, did careless Vaughan
Bemock his times. O friends of many years!
Though faith and trust are stronger than our fears,
And the signs promise peace with liberty,
Not thus we trifle with our country's tears
And sweat of agony. The future's gain
Is certain as God's truth; but, meanwhile, pain
Is bitter and tears are salt: our voices take
A sober tone; our very household songs
Are heavy with a nation's griefs and wrongs;
And innocent mirth is chastened for the sake
Of the brave hearts that nevermore shall beat,
The eyes that smile no more, the unreturning
feet!

1863
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