Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE FUGITIVE, by PRISCILLA JANE THOMPSON

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THE FUGITIVE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: With bleeding back, from tyrant's lash
Last Line: His free, allotted days.
Subject(s): African Americans; Slavery; Negroes; American Blacks; Serfs

WITH BLEEDING back, from tyrant's lash,:
A fleet-foot slave has sped,
All frantic, past his humble hut,
And seeks the wood instead.
Once in the woods, his manhood wakes;
Why stand this bondage, wroth?
With diabolic, reckless heart,
He turns he, to the North.

He flings his crude hat to the ground,
And face the northern wind;
Fleet in his tracks, the blood-hounds bay,
He leaves them far behind.
By devious way, cross many a stream,
He fiercely pressed that day,
With deadly oaths for brush or brake,
That chance to block his way.

Erelong, when kind and soothing night,
Had hushed the strife of man,
He wades waist-deep, unto a tree,
To rest awhile and plan.

He knows no friends or shelter, kind,
To soothe his deadly grief,
He only knows, that farther north,
A slave may find relief.

No lore of book, or college craft,
Lends cunning to his plan,
Fresh from the tyrant's blasting touch.
He stands a crude, rough, man.

But Providence, with pity, deep,
Looked down upon that slave,
And mapped a path, up through the South,
And strength and courage gave.

Sometimes, a friendly fellow-slave,
Chance, spying where he hid,
At night would bring his coarse, rough, fare,
And God speed warmly bid.

And sometimes, when to hunger fierce,
He'd seem almost to yield,
A bird would fall into his clutch,
A fish would shake his reel.

And when on reaching colder climes,
A sheep-cote shelter made,
Or, law-abiding Yankee, stern,
Clandestinely, lent aid.

Till after many a restless day,
And weary, toiling, night,
All foot-sore, worn, and tired of limb,
His haven looms in sight.

His tired feet press Canadian shore,
Friends tell him he is free;
He feels a craving still, to hide,
It seems it cannot be.

But from suspense and thralldom freed,
His manhood wakes at last,
And plies he hand and brain with might,
To mend his ruthless past.

And Providence, in years that came,
Sent blessings rife, his way,
With grateful heart he journeyed through,
His free, allotted days.

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