The Musing Slave
And paints, as if with magic touch,The midnight landscapes on the streams,
And softens into angel dreams
The scenes we love so much.
Like Mercy's fluttering wings,Seem hovering o'er religious fanes,
To guard their altars 'gainst the pains
Which crime and error brings.
And lights of flickering gold,Its murmuring founts, that soothe the heart,
Its bowers where romance plays its part,
Are beauteous to behold.
Their bubbles turned to gems,The ship with wings and breezes free,
Like some great night-bird in its glees,
Plays with the tide it stems.
Upon the ocean's breast,Are fearless of the billows' roar,
Or breakers dashing on their shore,
For moonlight lulls to rest
Impartial in thy love;Thou playest on the mountains drear,
In deep abysses thou art near,
Whence gloom and fear remove.
With all thy magic art,And from its broken altar preach
The truths that thou dost shine to teach--
It is the bondman's heart.
In dreadful silence reigns,No golden sun-beams in their love,
No silv'ry moon-beams, ever move
Through stocks and whips and chains.
No angel minstrels ever play,
No magi watch the gemWhich leads us in the glorious way
To where our manhood's savoir lay,
In reason's Bethlehem.
Oh, God! how dreary is that soul
Where utter darkness dwells;Where doubt and dread and fear control;
Where grim dispair its billows roll,
And anguish never quells!
What mockery in those words that saith:
There pleasure reigns serene--Where prayer and cursing in one breath,
Like grinning folly wed to death,
Makes superstition queen.
No, thou dost shine for all save me--
The poor heart-broken slave--The rays that quicken reason's play,
And lift the gloom from freedom's way,
But points me to the grave.