Poetry Explorer

Classic and Contemporary Poetry

First Line: Come! Rouse ye brothers, rouse! A peal now breaks
Last Line: From partial bondage to a life indeed.
Subject(s): African Americans; Emancipation Movement & Proclamation; Freedom; Toussaint L'ouverture (1743-1803); Negroes; American Blacks; Antislavery Movement - United States; Liberty

Come! rouse ye brothers, rouse! a peal now breaks
From lowest island to our gallant lakes:
'Tis summoning you, who long in bonds have lain,
To stand up manful on the battle plain,
Each as a warrior, with his armor bright,
Prepared to battle in a bloodless fight.
Hark! How each breeze that blows o'er Hudson's tide
Is calling loudly on your birth-right pride
And each near cliff, whose peak fierce storms has stood,
Shouts back responsive to the calling flood.
List! from those heights that once with freedom rung,
And those broad fields, where Earth has oft-times sung,
A voice goes up, invoking men to prove
How dear is freedom, and how strong their love.
From every obscure vale and swelling hill
The spirit tones are mounting; louder still
From out the din where noble cities rise
On Mohawk's banks, the peal ascends the skies.
Responding sweet with morning's opening praise,
The sounds commingle, far, to where the rays
Of light departing, sink to partial sleep,
'Mid caverned gems in Erie's bosomed deep.
Nor yet less heard, from inland slopes it swells,
In chiming music, with the village bells,
And mixes loud e'en with the ocean's waves,
Like shrill-voiced echo in the mountain caves.
'Tis calling you, who now too long have been
Sore victims suffering under legal sin,
To vow, no more to sleep, till raised and freed
From partial bondage, to a life indeed.
Behold ye now! here consecrate from toil
And love, your homes abide on holy soil.
To these, as sacred temples, fond you cling:
For, thence alone, life's narrow comforts spring,
'Tis here the twilight of existence broke,
The first warm throbbings of your hearts awoke.
Here first o'er you, fond mothers watch'd and pray'd,
Here friendship rose and holy vows were made.
On yon familiar height or gentle stream,
You first did mark the pleasant moonlight gleam.
Here, happy, laugh'd o'er life in cradled bloom
And here, first pensive, wept at age's tomb,
Yes; many a sire, with burnt and furrowed brow
Here died, in hope that you in freedom now
Would feel the boasted pledge your country gave,
That her defender should not be her slave.
And wherefore, round your homes has not been thrown
That guardian shield, which strangers call their own?
Why, now, do ye, as your poor fathers did,
Bow down in slience to what tyrants bid?
And sweat and bleed from early morn till eve,
To earn a dower less than beggars leave?
Why are ye pleased to delve at mammon's nod?
To buy that manhood which is yours from God,
Free choice to say who worthy is to lead
Your country's cause, to give your heart-felt meed
Of praise to him that, barring custom's rule,
Would nobly dare attack the cringing tool
That with a selfish aim and ruthless hand,
Would tear in twain love's strong and holy band:
Why can ye not, as men who know and feel
What most is needed for your nation's weal,
Stand in her forums, and with burning words
Urge on the time, when to the bleeding herds,
Whose minds are buried now in polar night,
Hope shall descend; when freedom's mellow light
Shall break, and usher in the endless day,
That from Orleans to Pass'maquoddy Bay,
Despots no more may earthly homage claim,
Nor slaves exist, to soil Columbia's name.
Then, up! awake! nor let dull slumber waste
Your soul's devotion! life doth bid you haste;
The captive in his hut, with watchful ear,
Awaits the sweet triumphant songs to hear,
That shall proclaim the glorious jubilee
When crippled thousands shall in truth be free.
Come! rouse ye brothers, rouse! nor let the voice
That shouting, calls you onward to rejoice,
Be heard in vain! but with ennobled souls,
Let all whom now an unjust law controls,
Press on in strength of mind, in purpose bent,
To live by right; to swell the free tones sent
On Southern airs, from this, your native State,
A glorious promise for the captive's fate.
Then up! and vow no more to sleep, till freed
From partial bondage to a life indeed.

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