Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE SLAVE; A SEA-PIECE, OFF JAMAICA, by RICHARD HENGIST (HENRY) HORNE



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THE SLAVE; A SEA-PIECE, OFF JAMAICA, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Before us in the sultry dawn arose
Last Line: The slave is human in a bleeding heart.
Subject(s): Jamaica, West Indies; Slavery; Serfs


BEFORE us in the sultry dawn arose
Indigo-tinted mountains; and ere noon
We near'd an isle that lay like a festoon,
And shar'd the ocean's glittering repose.

We saw plantations spotted with white huts;
Estates midst orange groves and towering trees;
Rich yellow lawns embrown'd by soft degrees;
Plots of intense gold freak'd with shadynuts.

A dead hot silence tranced sea, land, and sky:
And now a long canoe came gliding forth,
Wherein there sat an old man fierce and swarth,
Tiger-faced, black-fang'd, and with jaundiced eye.

Pure white, with pale blue chequer'd, and red fold
Of head-cloth 'neath straw brim, this Master wore;
While in the sun-glare stood with high-rais'd oar
A naked Image all of burnish'd gold.

Golden his bones -- high-valued in the mart,
His minted muscles, and his glossy skin;
Golden his life of action -- but within
The slave is human in a bleeding heart.





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