Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SLAVES, by JAMES GRAINGER



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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

SLAVES, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Yet, planter, let humanity prevail.- / perhaps the negro, in his native land
Last Line: The blacks should cultivate the cane-land isles.
Subject(s): African Americans; Oppression; Plantation Life; Slavery; Negroes; American Blacks; Serfs


YET, planter, let humanity prevail.—
Perhaps thy negro, in his native land,
Possessed large fertile plains, and slaves, and herds:
Perhaps, whene'er he deigned to walk abroad,
The richest silks, from where the Indus rolls,
His limbs invested in their gorgeous pleats:
Perhaps he wails his wife, his children, left
To struggle with adversity: perhaps
Fortune, in battle for his country fought,
Gave him a captive to his deadliest foe:
Perhaps, incautious, in his native fields
(On pleasurable scenes his mind intent)
All as he wandered, from the neighbouring grove,
Fell ambush dragged him to the hated main.—
Were they even sold for crimes; ye polished say!
Ye to whom Learning opes her amplest page!
Ye, whom the knowledge of a living God
Should lead to virtue! are ye free from crimes?
Ah pity, then, these uninstructed swains;
And still let mercy soften the decrees
Of rigid justice, with her lenient hand.
Oh, did the tender Muse possess the power,
Which monarchs have, and monarchs oft abuse:
'Twould be the fond ambition of her soul
To quell tyrannic sway; knock off the chains
Of heart-debasing slavery; give to man,
Of every colour and of every clime,
Freedom, which stamps him image of his God.
Then laws, Oppression's scourge, fair Virtue's prop,
Offspring of Wisdom! should impartial reign,
To knit the whole in well-accorded strife:
Servants, not slaves; of choice, and not compelled;
The blacks should cultivate the Cane-land isles.





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