Page images


FROM 1833 TO 1848.


FROM 1833 TO 1848.

Al motionless and dewy wet,

TOUSSAINT L'OUVERTURE.32 Twas night. The tranquil moonlight smile

With which Heaven dreams of Earth, shed down Its beauty on the Indian isle

On broad green field and white-walled town;
And inland waste of rock and wood,
In searching sunshine, wild and nude,
Rose, mellowed through the silver gleam,
Soft as the landscape of a dream,
Tree, vine, and flower in shadow met:
The myrtle with its snowy bloom,
Crossing the nightshade's solemn gloom-
The white cecropia's silver rind
Relieved by deeper green behind,-
The orange with its fruit of gold,--
The passion-flower, with symbol holy,
Twining its tendrils long and lowly,—
The rhexias dark, and cassia tall,
And proudly rising

over all,
The kingly palm's imperial stem,
Crowned with its leafy diadem,
Star-like, beneath whose sombre shade,
The fiery-winged cucullo played !

Yes-lovely was thine aspect, then,

Fair island of the Western Sea!
Lavish of beauty, even when
Thy brutes were happier than thy men,

For they, at least, were free!
Regardless of thy glorious clime,

Unmindful of thy soil of flowers,
The toiling negro sighed, that Time

No faster sped his hours.
For, by the dewy moonlight still,
He fed the weary-turning mill,
Or bent him in the chill morass,
To pluck the long and tangled grass,
And hear above his scar-worn back
The heavy slave-whip's frequent crack;
While in his heart one evil thought
In solitary madness wrought,
One baleful fire surviving still

The quenching of the immortal mind-
One sterner passion of his kind,
Which even fetters could not kill,
The savage hope, to deal, ere long,
A vengeance bitterer than his wrong!
Hark to that cry!—long, loud, and shrill,
From field and forest, rock and hill,
Thrilling and horrible it rang,

Around, beneath, above ;The wild beast from his cavern sprang

The wild bird from her grove! Nor fear, nor joy, nor agony Were mingled in that midnight cry; But like the lion's growl of wrath, When falls that hunter in his path, Whose barbed arrow, deeply set, Is rankling in his bosom yet, It told of hate, full, deep, and strong, Of vengeance kindling out of wrong; It was as if the crimes of years,

The unrequited toil—the tears—
The shame and hate, which liken well
Earth's garden to the nether hell,
Had found in Nature's self a tongue,
On which the gathered horror hung;
As if from cliff, and stream, and glen,
Burst, on the startled ears of men,
That voice which rises unto God,
Solemn and stern-the cry of blood !
It ceased and all was still once more,
Save ocean chafing on his shore,
The sighing of the wind between
The broad banana's leaves of green,
Or bough by restless plumage shook,
Or murmuring voice of mountain brook.
Brief was the silence. Once again

Pealed to the skies that frantic yell-
Glowed on the heavens a fiery stain,

And flashes rose and fell;
And painted on the blood-red sky,
Dark, naked arms were tossed on high;
And, round the white man's lordly hall,

Trode, fierce and free, the brute he made
And those who crept along the wall,
And answered to his lightest call

With more than spaniel dreadThe creatures of his lawless beckWere trampling on his very neck! And on the night-air, wild and clear, Rose woman's shriek of more than fear; For bloodied arms were round her thrown, And dark cheeks pressed against her own! Then, injured Afric!—for the shame Of thy own daughters, vengeance came Full on the scornful hearts of those, Who mocked thee in thy nameless woes, and to thy hapless children gave Ine choice-pollution, or the grave !

« PreviousContinue »