19th Century: 1864

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper (1825-1911)

                                                       Bury Me in a Free Land

                                    (published in the Libertor on January 14, 1864)

Make me a grave where'er you will,

In a lowly plain or a lofty hilll;

Make it among eath's humblest graves,

But not in a land where men are slaves.

 

I could not rest, if around my grave

I heard the steps of a trebling slave;

His shadow above my silent tomb

Would make it a place of fearful gloom.

 

I could not sleep, if I heard the tread

Of a coffle-gang to the shambles led,

And the mother's shriek of wild despair

Rise, like a curse, on the trembling air.

 

I could not rest, if I saw the lah

Drinking her blood at each fearful gash;

And I saw her babes torn from her breast,

Like trembling doves from their parent nest.

 

I'd shudder and start, if I heard the bay

Of a bloodhound seizing his human prey;

And I heard the captive plead in vain,

As they bound, afresh, his galling chain.

 

If I saw young girls from their mother's arms

Bartered and sold for their youthful charms,

My eye would flash with a mournful flame,

My death-pale cheek grow red with shame.

 

I would sleep, dear friends, where bloated Might

Can rob no man of his dearest right;

My rest shall be calm in any grave

Where none can call his brother a slave.

 

I ask no monument, proud and high,

To arrest the gaze of passers by;

All that my yearning spirit craves

Is- Bury me not in a land of slaves! 

 

 

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