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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,
Ünmindful 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 sca-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
One choice-pollution, or the grave !
Where then was he, whose fiery zeal
Had taught the trampled heart to feel,
Until despair itself grew strong,
And vengeance fed its torch from wrong?
Now-when the thunder-bolt is speeding;
Now—when oppression's heart is bleeding
Now-when the latent curse of Time
Is raining down in fire and blood-
That curse which, through long years of crime,
Has gathered, drop by drop, its flood-Why strikes he not, the foremost one, Where murder's sternest deeds are done?
He stood the aged palms beneath,
That shadowed o'er his humble door,
Listening, with half-suspended breath,
To the wild sounds of fear and death
Toussaint l'Ouverture !
What marvel that his heart beat high !
The blow for freedom had been given;
And blood had answered to the cry
Which earth sent up to Heaven!
What marvel, that a fierce delight
Smiled grimly o'er his brow of night,
As groan, and shout, and bursting flame,
Told where the midnight tempest came,
With blood and fire along its van,
And death behind he was a Man!
Yes, dark-souled chieftain if the light
Of mild Religion's heavenly ray
Unveiled not to thy mental sight
The lowlier and the
In which the Holy Sufferer trod,
Meekly amidst the sons of crime,
That calm reliance upon God
For justice, in his own good time, That gentleness, to which belongs
Forgiveness for its many wrongs,
Even as the primal martyr, kneeling
For mercy on the evil-dealing,
Let not the favored white man name
Thy stern appeal, with words of blame.
Has he not, with the light of heaven
Broadly around him, made the same?
Yea, on his thousand war-fields striven,
And gloried in his ghastly shame ?--
Kneeling amidst his brother's blood,
To offer mockery unto God,
As if the High and Holy One
Could smile on deeds of murder done!
As if a human sacrifice
in his Holy eyes,
Though offered up by Christian hands,
Than the foul rites of Pagan lands!
Sternly, amidst his household band,
His carbine grasped within his hand,
The white man stood, prepared and still,
Waiting the shock of maddened men,
Unchained, and fierce as tigers, when
Thu horn winds through their caverned hill And one was weeping in his sight-
The sweetest flower of all the isle,-
The bride who seemed but yesternight.
Love's fair embodied smile.
And, clinging to her trembling knee,
Looked up the form of infancy,
With tearful glance in either face,
The secret of its fear to trace.
“ Ha-stand or die!” The white man's eye
His steady musket gleamed along, As a tall Negro hastened nigh,
With fearless step and strong. • What, ho, Touissaint !” A moment more, His shadow crossed the lighted floor.
« Away,” he shouted; “fly with me, The white man's bark is on the sea; Her sails must catch the seaward wind, For sudden vengeance sweeps behind. Our brethren from their graves have spoken, The yoke is spurned—the chain is broken; On all the hills our fires are glowingThrough all the vales red blood is flowing ! No more the mocking White shall rest His foot upon the Negro's breast; No more, at morn or eve, shall drip The warm blood from the driver's whip ;Yet, though Toussaint has vengeance sworn For all the wrongs his race have borne,Though for each drop of Negro blood The white man's veins shall pour a flood; Not all alone the sense of ill Around his heart is lingering still, Nor deeper can the white man feel The generous warmth of grateful zeal. Friends of the Negro ! fly with me The path is open to the sea : Away, for life !”—He spoke, and pressed The young child to his manly breast, As, headlong, through the cracking cane, Down swept the dark insurgent trainDrunken and grim, with shout and yell Howled through the dark like sounds from hell
Far out, in peace, the white man's sail
Swayed free before the sunrise gale.
Cloud-like that island hung afar,
Along the bright horizon's verge,
O'er which the curse of servile war
Rolled its red torrent, surge on surge
And he--the Negro champion-where
In the fierce tumult, struggled he?
Go trace him by the fiery glare
Of dwellings in the midnight air-