The Musing Slave

Dublin Core


The Musing Slave


The queenly moon an artist seem,

And paints, as if with magic touch,

The midnight landscapes on the streams,
And softens into angel dreams

The scenes we love so much.

The city, with its sparkling vanes,

Like Mercy's fluttering wings,

Seem hovering o'er religious fanes,
To guard their altars 'gainst the pains

Which crime and error brings.

Its palaces, all fringed with art

And lights of flickering gold,

Its murmuring founts, that soothe the heart,
Its bowers where romance plays its part,

Are beauteous to behold.

The waves, to silver turned on sca,

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.

The dreamy isles that sleep secure

Upon the ocean's breast,

Are fearless of the billows' roar,
Or breakers dashing on their shore,

For moonlight lulls to rest

Oh! moonlight, thou art ever dear,

Impartial in thy love;

Thou playest on the mountains drear,
In deep abysses thou art near,

Whence gloom and fear remove.

But there's a place thou canst not reach,

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 that one life-long night of woe

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 gem

Which 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.


J. Sella Martin


2:1, pp. 13-5




J. Sella Martin, “The Musing Slave,” Periodical Poets, accessed May 18, 2024,


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