BURY ME IN A FREE LAND (Frances Watkins Harper 1825-1911)

BURY ME IN A FREE LAND (Frances Watkins Harper 1825-1911)

Make me a grave where you will
In a lowly plain, or a lofty hill;
Make it among earth’s humblest graves.
But not in a land where men are slaves

I could not rest if around my grave
I heard the steps of a trembling slave;
His shadow above my silent tomb
Would make it a place of fearful gloom

I could not rest if I head the tread
Of coffle gang to the shambles led
And the mother’s shriek of wild despair
Rise like a curse on the trembling air

I could not sleep if I saw the lash
Drinking her blood at each fearful gash
And I saw her babies torn from her breast
Like trembling doves torn from their parents nest

I’d shudder and start if I heard the bay
Of bloodhounds seizing their prey
And I heard the captive plead in vain
As the bound afresh his galling chain

If I saw young girls from their mother’s arms
Bartered and sold for their youthful charms
My eyes would flash with a mournful flame
My death-paled cheek grow red with shame

I would sleep, dear friends, where bloated might
Can rob no man of his dearest right;
My rest shall be calm in any grave
Where none can call his brother a slave

I ask no monument, proud or high,
To arrest the gaze of the passer-by;
All that my yearning spirit craves,
Is bury me not in a land of slaves.

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