Where the palm groves and bananas in the sunny Tropics thrive,
Where the parrots' lively chatter makes the jungle seem alive,
Where the beach-sands sparkle, brightly splashed by warm and steaming surf,
Where the Orient bathers gather on the grassy sand-strewn turf,
Oh, the foreign trader's vessel,
Like an eagle out for prey,
Swooping down for one brief wrestle
Bore the helpless spoil away!
Oh, the lonesome wastes of ocean; oh, the far and mournful land!
To the heart of the poor heathen, woe he could not understand;
Cursed through weary generations, with a thankless load to bear,
None a recompense to promise, none to soothe the present's care;
'Twas a sunny land of plenty
Where the white-winged eagle sped;
But to him a portion scanty
That the eaglets might be fed.
Where the beautiful palmettoes in the Tropic Summer thrive,
Where bright birds with Freedom's music make the cypress-swamps alive;
Oh, the hopeless child of bondage, torn from Nature's dearest ties,
Labors on for Might's proud despot, or in slow despairing dies!
'Tis a scene of life engraven
On the records of the past,
Hovered o'er by wrong's dark raven,
With false grandeur overcast.
Cursed be the dark-browed Canaan; was it God's supreme decree
That in Japheth's holier presence, he should bend the vassal's knee?
What know we of God's wise purpose?
Lo, His own almighty hand
With the sword of heavenly justice banished slavery from our land!
'Twas a struggle long and gory,
But the hand of God was there;
To the presence of His glory
Had been borne an Israel's prayer.
In His righteous indignation had His holy eyes looked down;
Was there One who plead before Him who had worn derision's crown,
Who had trod the wine-press sadly,
Who had borne the tyrant's blow,
Who had felt in bitter anguish none were with Him in His woe?
Oh, against wrong's mighty forces
On the battlefield of earth,
Who shall say that Heaven's white horses
Bear no unseen warriors forth!
To the battlements of evil have those Heavenly chariots flown,
As when Babylon was fallen and her kingdom proud o'erthrown;
With the powers of human justice move they swiftly o'er the plain,
'Till a mightier than Belshazzar in his princely court is slain;
'Till the peer of Persia's nations
Waves her trampled flag afar,
And above the old plantations
Rises Freedom's morning-star.
In his pride the lordly tyrant flings his palace gateways wide,
All the hosts of earth and heaven by his hand have been defied;
Who can guess the covered secrets deeply buried in his breast?
Oh, his sons and daughters revel while they slumber unconfessed;
But through all the scorching noon-tide
And beneath the sinless moon,
Toil the fatherless mulatto
And the "beautiful quadroon."
Oh, thou dark and mighty evil, thou hast left thy curse behind
And uncounted generations shall with quickened vision find,
On the pure and lofty pages of our country's history fair,
One great blot that wide outspreading mars sweet Freedom's record there;
And the cotton-fields shall quiver
With dread mysteries untold,
And the dim swamp-forests shiver
With the secrets black they hold!
And a mixed, degraded people shall the sunny South invest;
Lawless, ignorant and vicious in their scanty lives unblest;
Will ye thoughtlessly upbraid them and their ignorance descry?
Well might they in truth and candor make to this a just reply:
"Ye have dared to thus degrade us,
And our simple minds to mar,
Come not blindly to upbraid us,
Ye have made us what we are."
But not all on Africa's children was the cloud of evil spent,
Faith and Truth's divinest altars by the black-winged bolt were rent;
Who enslaves another's manhood with weak human power alone,
Lays a heavier yoke of bondage thoughtlessly upon his own;
With thy bonds of degradation,
Oh, thou mighty power of sin,
Through the gateways of our Nation,
Come no more a traitoress in!