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THE RUNAWAY SLAVE AT PILGRIM'S POINT, by             Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography


"The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim's Point" is a powerful and emotional poem written by Elizabeth Barrett Browning. It tells the story of a female slave who has escaped from her owner and is now hiding at a dangerous location. The poem is divided into five stanzas, each of which tells a different part of the slave's story.

In the first stanza, the speaker sets the scene, describing the slave's hiding place at Pilgrim's Point, a desolate location where the slave has found refuge. The speaker notes the harsh conditions the slave is facing, including hunger, thirst, and exhaustion. The second stanza focuses on the slave's backstory, revealing that she was once a princess in her homeland but was captured and sold into slavery.

The third stanza describes the slave's escape and her dangerous journey to Pilgrim's Point. The speaker emphasizes the risk she took and the courage she showed in escaping, as well as the support she received from other slaves along the way. The fourth stanza describes the slave's life at Pilgrim's Point, where she must hide from her former owner and his henchmen. The speaker notes the slave's isolation and despair, but also her strength and resilience.

Finally, in the fifth stanza, the speaker urges readers to take action to end slavery and to recognize the humanity of all people, regardless of race. The speaker emphasizes the importance of empathy and compassion, asking readers to imagine themselves in the slave's position.

Poetic Elements:

  • Form: "The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim's Point" is written in blank verse, which is unrhymed iambic pentameter. This form gives the poem a natural, conversational feel that allows the narrator's voice to come through clearly.
  • Imagery: Throughout the poem, Browning uses vivid and powerful imagery to convey the emotional weight of the story. For example, the image of the "terrible eyes" of the slave owner is haunting and memorable.
  • Metaphor: The poem is full of metaphors that help to illuminate the themes of the work. For example, the image of the slave as a bird in a cage is a powerful metaphor for the way in which slavery denies people their freedom.
  • Symbolism: The church in which the slave seeks refuge is a powerful symbol of hope and sanctuary. The fact that the church is ultimately unable to protect her from her captors underscores the challenges faced by those seeking freedom in a world that values property over human l

Overall, "The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim's Point" is a powerful and moving poem that uses the story of a single slave to highlight the injustice and inhumanity of slavery as a whole. The poem's vivid imagery and effective use of rhetorical devices make it a memorable and impactful work of literature.


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