Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, BROWN OF OSSAWATOMIE [DECEMBER 2, 1859], by JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER



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BROWN OF OSSAWATOMIE [DECEMBER 2, 1859], by             Poet's Biography
First Line: John brown of ossawatomie spake on his dying day
Last Line: To love!
Subject(s): Abolitionists; American Civil War; Brown, John (1800-1859); Capital Punishment; Freedom; Slavery; United States - History; Anti-slavery; Hanging; Executions; Death Penalty; Liberty; Serfs


JOHN BROWN OF OSSAWATOMIE spake on his dying
day:
"I will not have to shrive my soul a priest in
Slavery's pay;
But let some poor slave-mother whom I have
striven to free,
With her children, from the gallows-stair put up
a prayer for me!"

John Brown of Ossawatomie, they led him out to
die;
And lo! a poor slave-mother with her little child
pressed nigh:
Then the bold, blue eye grew tender, and the old
harsh face grew mild,
As he stooped between the jeering ranks and
kissed the negro's child!

The shadows of his stormy life that moment fell
apart,
And they who blamed the bloody hand forgave
the loving heart;
That kiss from all its guilty means redeemed the
good intent,
And round the grisly fighter's hair the martyr's
aureole bent!

Perish with him the folly that seeks through evil
good!
Long live the generous purpose unstained with
human blood!
Not the raid of midnight terror, but the thought
which underlies;
Not the borderer's pride of daring, but the Chris-
tian's sacrifice.

Nevermore may yon Blue Ridges the Northern
rifle hear,
Nor see the light of blazing homes flash on the
negro's spear;
But let the free-winged angel Truth their guarded
passes scale,
To teach that right is more than might, and jus-
tice more than mail!

So vainly shall Virginia set her battle in array;
In vain her trampling squadrons knead the win-
ter snow with clay!
She may strike the pouncing eagle, but she dares
not harm the dove;
And every gate she bars to Hate shall open wide
to Love!




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