Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, A SOUTHERN SCENE, by PRISCILLA JANE THOMPSON

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

A SOUTHERN SCENE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Far in the land of sunny south
Last Line: On those who doth on thee believe?
Subject(s): African Americans; Racism; Southern States; Negroes; American Blacks; Racial Prejudice; Bigotry; South (u.s.)

FAR in the land of sunny South,
Where brightly shines the sun,
Where foliage green, is ever seen,
Like to a northern spring begun,
A lithe and agile, ebon, youth,
With gladsome heart, in love and truth,
Is ling'ring with his plighted one.

One arm about her waist is twined --
One little hand he holds;
Her head at rest, upon his breast,
Is like a lambkin in the fold --
When fierce, the mountain wolf of gray,
Howls in the uplands, far away,
Of hunger, wretchedness, and cold.

"Yes honey, after we are wed,
Far to the North we'll stray;
There black and white, have equal right,
I've heard the northern Yankee say,
And noose, and lash, are never used,
On guiltless blacks, with foul abuse,
But law and justice, rule the day."

"And Ellen, honey, when at last,
We'll rest on freedom's clay,
I'll show a self, my little elf,
Which here dare not to show, I may;
The foul and loathsome chains I'll break
From inner man, and bid him wake,
To bright and gladsome freedom's day."

"Oh Henry! " -- Ellen sadly cries;
Dark doth the future seem;
That brighter day, is far away,
And love, I fear 'tis but a dream;
Your white foes all about you throng,
Their hateful snare they'll set erelong,
And thwart your brightest hopes, I ween."

The hot tears, veil her soft eyes dark;
She heaves a weary sigh;
For in their road, doth doom forbode,
She feels convinced, she knows not why:
And, ever like a shadow near,
Lingers the burden of her fear,
Like threat'ning clouds in summer sky.

He soothes her timid tears away,
And folds her in his arms;
She's braced at length, by manly strength,
And feels secure from any harm;
From trembling lips, he coax a smile,
And steals a honeyed kiss the while,
And gaily laughs at her alarm.

With gladsome heart, he homeward hies;
High beat his pulses free --
His whistle shrill, rings from the hill,
And sends an echo over the lea;
With light, elastic, step, he tread,
And thinks of her he's soon to wed --
Guard and protect, by fate's decree.

A feeling of unworthiness,
Possess his noble mind;
His precious love, seems of above,
An angel, strayed from heav'nly clime;
He conjures up her presence fair,
Her tender smile, her patient air,
And reverence her in truth sublime.

But hark! at nightfall grim and dark,
What are those sounds I hear --
Like to the hiss, through fog and mist --
Of serpents in the rushes near?
'Tis whispr'ings of a vicious plan,
To seize and lynch a guiltless man,
Whom justice fair, would rightly clear.

Their false accuse of hatred bred,
They hiss with fiery tongue,
To kindred fiend, with equal spleen,
Who join the leaders in the run:
And like a pack of dumb curs bold,
In search of lost sheep out the fold,
They hie upon their errand, mean.

They gather round poor Henry's cot,
And then, with motions fleet,
With muttered oath, and faces loath,
They bind their victim, hand and feet;
Dazed by their vicious threats, profane,
He seems a dead man in his chains,
As he is borne through dim lit streets.

Erelong, a taper looms in sight;
It falls on Henry's gaze:
Fair Ellen's light, arms him with might --
To brave his pale faced foes, amazed;
He breaks those hateful ropes that bind,
As though they were small threads of twine;
And turns, his enemies to raze.

His blows fall fast, on cringing heads --
Swift moves his stalwart form;
His glaring eyes, flash like a fire
Fanned by a raging winter's storm;
Like slaughtered beeves, his foemen fail,
And dire confusion ruleth all;
They crouch, they swear, in mean alarm.

But look, a form is by his side --
A woman's scream he hears!
A painful start, possess his heart --
It is his frightened Ellen, dear;
He shields her from the ruffians vile,
And makes a desperate break the while
To 'scape the mob and soothe her fear.

But lo! a vicious outlaw, wild,
With murder in his heart,
With deadly ire, his weapon fire,
And speeds a bullet like a dart;
It drives a hole through Ellen's breast,
On Henry's breaking heart she rest,
While once again the mob upstart.

The Ethiopes are rallied now,
A deadly fray ensue,
The lifeblood red, from victims shed,
Moistens the trampled earth like dew;
And soon the direful fray's complete,
The outlaws, cowardly retreat,
To seek protection not their due.

When dawns the light of morning's sun,
Destroyed by bullets, sped --
On bloody ground, the dead are found,
With features stern and eyeballs red;
And with him rest, in tranquil grace,
Poor Ellen, closed in his embrace,
Lay Henry, with the silent dead.

How long, oh Lord, wilt thou permit
Such direful deeds as these?
How long with pain, the bitter chain
Of torture, shall my people grieve?
When shall Caucasia's blows be staid?
When wait thou hush her foul upbraid,
On those who doth on Thee believe?

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