Ode on the Abolition of Slavery

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Ode on the Abolition of Slavery


Proudly on Cressy's tented wold

The Lion flag of England flew;

As proudly gleamed its crimson fold

O'er the dun heights of Waterloo:

But other lyres shall greet the brave;
Sing now, that we have freed the Slave.

The ocean plain, where Nelson bled,

Fair Commerce plies with peaceful oar,

Duteous o'er Britain's clime to shed

The gathered spoil of every shore;

To-day across the Atlantic sea,
Shout, shout ye, that the Slave is free.

And Eloquence, in rushing streams,

Has flowed o'er halls and courts along,

Or kindled mid yet loftier dreams

The glowing burst of glorious Song:

Let both their noblest burthen pour,
To tell that Slavery is no more.

Bright Science, through each field of space,

Has urged her mist-dispelling car,

Coy Nature's hidden reign to trace,

To weigh each wind, and count each tar:

Yet stay, thou proud Philosophy,
First stoop to bid Mankind be Free.

And Freedom has been long our own,

With all her soft and generous train,

To gild the lustre of the throne,

And guard the labors of the plain;

Ye heirs of ancient Runneymede!
Your Slaves - O could it be? - are freed.

Ah! for the tale the slave could speak;

Ah! for the shame of Britain's sway,

On Afric's sands the maddened shriek,

'Neath Indian suns the burning day:

Ye sounds of guilt - ye sights of gore -
Away! for Slavery is no more.

'Mid the dear haunts of Force and Strife,

The Ministers of Peace shall stand,

And pour the welling words of Life

Around a parched and thirsty land;

While, spread beneath the tamarind tree,
Rise, "happy homes and altars free."

Ye isles that court the tropic rays,

Clustered on Ocean's sapphire breast,

Ye feathery bowers, ye fairy bays,

In more than fable now - "the Blest:"

Waft on each gale your choral strain,
'Till every land has rent the chain.

O! England empires' home and head,

First in each art of peace and power,

Mighty the billow crest to tread,

Mighty to rule the battle hour -

But mightier to retrieve and save,
Rejoice that thou hast freed the Slave!


Lord Morpeth


New Series 2:37, p. 148




Lord Morpeth, “Ode on the Abolition of Slavery,” Periodical Poets, accessed February 22, 2024, https://periodicalpoets.com/items/show/447.


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