"Ask of the rolling spheres that fly"

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"Ask of the rolling spheres that fly"


Ask of the rolling spheres that fly

In the deep blue skies away,

Far as creation's boundary,

What sceptre ye obey?

And they shall sing in their loudest strain, -
On, on - we wear no tyrant's chain.

Ask of the winds before whose might

The clouds in their splendour flee,

And the eagle stoops from his daring height, -

Whose ruffian slaves are ye?

And the winds shall shout as they rush amam
In their pride of strength, We know no chain.

Ask the waves whose peals are rung

Forth to earth's farthest clime, -

Where are the fetters Canute flung

Upon your march sublime?

And as they sweep on gloriously,
Thou shalt be answered. - We are free.

Question the tempest in its hour

Of lightning and of gloom; -

Question the thunder's awful power, -

- The monarch of the tomb; -

Whose are the chains around you wrought?
And they shall answer, Thine are not.

Ask of the jocund birds that wing

Their flight to every zone,

O'er the tropic bower where smiles the spring

Through one unceasing blossoming;

Or arctic wastes where the winter's form
Careers amid the darkling storm.

And spring is never known; -

Yea, ask the birds; - whose vassals ye?
And the woods shall echo, We are free.

But ask not man, if he be free

From slavery's cankering blight;

Unnumber'd groans shall answer thee,

E'en in this age of light, -

Be silent now, nor question him,

- Creation's saddest wreck -

His chain is on his brother's limb,

His foot is on his neck.

* * * * * * *

It comes from our own lov'd home,

- The land of our pilgrim sires,

Where freedom hath rear'd her proudest dome

And kindled her living fires;

Yea, while their beacon glory lies

Like sunbeams o'er her plains,

A nation breathes its deep'ning sighs,

And clangs its awful chains.


William Pitt Palmer


2:23, p. 181




Extracted from a Poem spoken July 4th, 1828, before the Anti-Slavery Society of William's College



William Pitt Palmer, “"Ask of the rolling spheres that fly",” Periodical Poets, accessed February 24, 2024, https://periodicalpoets.com/items/show/165.


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