Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, IN BONDS, by ALICE CARY



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First Line: While shines the sun, the storm even then
Last Line: Grows pitiful, and snaps the chain.
Subject(s): Abolitionists; Slavery; Anti-slavery; Serfs


WHILE shines the sun, the storm even then
Has struck his bargain with the sea --
Oh, lives of women, lives of men,
How pressed, how poor, how pinched ye be!

It is as if, having granted power
Almost omnipotent to man,
Heaven grudged the splendor of the dower,
And going back upon her plan,

Mortised his free feet in the ground,
Closed him in walls of ignorance,
And all the soul within him bound
In the dull hindrances of sense.

Hence, while he goads his will to rise,
As one his fallen ox might urge,
The conflict of the impatient cries
Within him wastes him like a scourge.

Even as dreams his days depart,
His work no sure foundation forms,
Immortal yearnings in his heart,
And empty shadows in his arms!

It is as if, being come to land,
Some pestilence, with fingers black,
Loosed from the wheel the master hand
And drove the homesick vessel back;

As if the nurslings of his care
Chilled him to death with their embrace;
As if that she he held most fair
Turned round and mocked him to his face.

And thus he stands, and ever stands,
Tempted without and torn within;
Ashes of ashes in his hands,
Famished and faint, and sick with sin.

Seeing the cross, and not the crown;
The o'erwhelming flood, and not the ark;
Till gap by gap his faith throws down
Its guards, and leaves him to the dark.

And when the last dear hope has fled,
And all is weary, dreary pain,
That enemy, most darkly dread,
Grows pitiful, and snaps the chain.





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