Stanzas for the Times
The freedom which they toiled to wine?
Is this the soil whereon they moved?Are these the graves they slumber in?
Are we the dons by whom is borneThe mantle which the dead have worn?
And shall we crouch above these graves,
With craven souls and fettered lip?
Yoke in with marked and branded SLAVES,And tremble at the driver's whip?
Bend to the earth our pliant knees,And speak - but as our masters please?
Shall outraged nature cease to feel?
Shall Mercy's tears no longer flow?
Shall ruffian threats of cord and steel,The dungeon's gloom, the assassin's blow,
Turn back the spirit roused to saveOur Truth - our Country - and the slave?
Of human skulls that shrine was made,
Whereon the priests of Mexico,
Before their loathsome idol prayed -Is Freedom's alter fashioned so?
And must we yield to Freedoms God,As offering meet, the negro's blood?
Shall tongues be mute, when deeds are wrought,
Which well might shame extremest hell?
Shall freemen lock th' indignant thought?Shall Mercy's bosom cease to swell?
Shall honor bleed? - Shall truth succumb?Shall pen, and press, and SOUL be dumb?
NO! - by each spot of haunted ground,
Where Freedom weeps her children's fall -
By Plymouth's rock, and Bunker's mound,By Griswold's stained and shattered wall,
By Warren's ghost - by Langdon's shade,By all the memories of our dead!
By their enlarging souls, which burst
The bands and fetters round them set -
By the free pilgrim spirit nursedWithin our inmost bosoms, yet
By all above - around - below -Be ours the indignant answer - NO!
No - guided by our country's laws,
For truth and right and suffering man,
Be ours to strive in Freedom's cause,As Christians may - as freemen can!
Still pouring on unwilling earsThat truth oppression only fears.
What! shall we guard our neighbor still,
While woman shrieks beneath his rod,
And while he tramples down at willThe image of a common God!
Shall watch and ward be round him setOf northern nerve and bayonet?
And shall we know and share with him
The danger and the open shame?
And see our Freedom's light grown dim,Which should have filled the world with flame?
And, writhing, feel where'er we turn,A world's reproach around us burn?
Is't not enough that this is borne?
And asks our haughty neighbor more?
Must fetters which his slaves have wornClank round the Yankee farmer's door?
Must he be told, beside his plough,What he must speak, and when and how?
Must he be told his freedom stands
On slavery's dark foundations strong -
On breaking hearts and fettered hands,On robbery and crime and wrong?
That all his fathers taught is vain -That Freedom's emblem is the chain?
Its life - its soul, from slavery drawn?
False - foul - profane! to - teach as well
Of holy truth from falsehood born -Of Heaven refreshed by airs from hell!
Of virtue nursed by open vice -Of demons planting Paradise!
Rail on, then, "brethren of the south" -
Ye shall not hear the truth the less -
No seal is on the Yankee's mouth,No fetter on the Yankee's press!
From our Green mountains to the sea,One voice shall thunder - WE ARE FREE!