Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, LINES, by ALFRED GIBBS CAMPBELL

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

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First Line: Wake not again the cannon's thundrous voice
Last Line: Light vanishes beneath the sun's eclipse.
Subject(s): Slavery; Serfs

Wake not again the cannon's thundrous voice,
Nor to the breeze throw out the stars and stripes;
'Tis not the time to revel and rejoice
Beneath the shadow of our nation's types --
Types of her ancient glory, present shame.
The stars have faded of her old renown,
For Liberty is but an empty name,
While Slavery wields the sceptre, wears the crown.

Why should we to the lie, persistent, cling,
And falsely boast our freedom on this day?
What though we are not governed by a king?
A sterner tyrant o'er our land holds sway,
And tramples on the dearest rights of man; --
Transforms God's image into merchandise;
Places free speech beneath his impious ban,
And all our God-given liberties denies.

Each foot of land within our wide domain
He claims as hunting-ground, whereon to chase
The hero-fugitive who breaks his chain,
And earns his freedom by advent'rous race.
On our limbs, too, the shackles he would bind;
Pluck out our hearts, or change them into stone;
Crush all our sympathies for human kind,
And bid us God and manhood to disown.

Give but a crust of bread to one of these
God's weary wanderers in search of rest,
Point out to him the North-star as he flees,
Or make him but an hour your welcome guest; --
And on your head the Robber Despot lays
With violence his unrelenting hand,
And with imprisonment and fine repays
Simple obedience to God's clear command.

We are not free! In every Southern State
Speech and the Press are fettered; -- and for him
Who dares speak out, the martyr-fires await,
Or hangman's rope from tallest pine-tree's limb.
We are not free! One man in every seven,
Throughout our false Republic, groans beneath
The vilest despotism under heaven,
Which leaves no hope of freedom but in death.

Nearly four millions in our land in chains!
One-half our country slave-land! and the whole
Man-hunting ground! And Kansas' virgin plains,
(Once pledged to Freedom,) under the control
Of the Slave Power! Say, Boaster, are we free?
See if the huge lie blister not your lips:
Where Slavery reigns, there Freedom cannot be!
Light vanishes beneath the sun's eclipse.

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