The Sentinel of Freedom

Dublin Core


The Sentinel of Freedom


"Watchman, what of the night?"

The storm has begun, the thunders are pealing,

The lightning of truth, like the stern flashing eye

Of Justice, that sleeps not, of vengeance unfeeling

Are bursting from clouds in their conflict on high;

The winds of discussion, like the ploughshares of terror,

Sink deep 'neath the surface of slavery's dead sea;

And the monsters of crime on the billows of error,

Appear to the horrified gaze of the free.

The weepings of mercy in showers are falling

On slavery's grim altars, to dampen their blazing;

The deep tones of progress like trumpets are calling

To red revolution, who fiercens his gaze;

The earthquakes of interest are shaking with fury

The groves and high places of tyranny's power,

And molten free speech like lava will bury

Its temples and altars, to rise never more.

Now, stern agitation, all sleepless and busy,

Throw's open the floodgates of feeling's deep sea;

And the swift-rushing torrents make nations grow dizzy,

As they leap over dams built to check their wild glee:

The merciless whirlwinds of God's indignation

Are sweeping through earth disenthralled from their cave,

And reason, all quenchless, in bright conflagration,

Is melting the chains from the limbs of the slave.

The champions of slavery in wild desperation,

Are cutting their flesh as the all-potent charm,

And pouring their blood as the needed libation

This wreath to appease, and their terrors to calm.

The truth-crushing genii of policy is waving

His wand of corruption to silence the roar,

And the great fish of mammon his Jonahs are saving

From watery destruction to die on the shore.

The altars of bondage are blazing with fire,

The slave in his chains is its grim sacrifice;

The tones of the priest rise higher and higher,

But his God now in conflict regards not his cries.

The merchant in fear brings his gifts to the altar,

The statesman and jurist bring laws all in vain:

The demagogue's accents in doubt 'gins to falter,

Though "Union" is sounded again and again.

But all is in vain, the heavens grow thicker

With portents of dread to oppression's weak soul,

And almighty truth flashes brighter and quicker,

While terrific reason in thunders still roll;

The earthquake is shatt'ring their prisons to pieces,

Amid the eruptions of volcanic speech;

While whirlwinds and torrents in fury increases,

Though tyrants alternately curse and beseech.

And thus shall it be until freedom shall cover

With an ocean of light our nation so dark,

'Till justice and mercy united shall hover

O'er manhood untrameled, in liberty's ark.

Then 'neath truth's great sun-light by conflict unfaded,

And earth renovated by fire and flood,

Shall man in his majesty stand undergraded,

The lord of creation, the image of God.


Rev. J. Sella Martin


1:11, pp. 361-2




Rev. J. Sella Martin, “The Sentinel of Freedom,” Periodical Poets, accessed May 18, 2024,


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