Sonnets to the Memory of Frederick Douglass

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Brentano's, 1895 - 12 pages

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Page 1 - I knew the noblest giants of my day, And he was of them — strong amid the strong : But gentle too : for though he suffered wrong, Yet the wrong-doer never heard him say, 'Thee also do I hate.' . . . " A lover's lay — No dirge — no doleful requiem song — Is what I owe him ; for I loved him long; As dearly as a younger brother may. Proud is the happy grief with which I sing; For, O my Country ! in the paths of men There never walked a grander man than he ! He was a peer of princes...
Page 7 - Bible from the filthy street-gutters, and washed and dried them, that in moments of leisure I might get a word or two of wisdom from them.
Page 2 - Is what I owe him ; for I loved him long ; As dearly as a younger brother may. Proud is the happy grief with which I sing ; For, O my Country ! in the paths of men There never walked a grander man than he ! He was a peer of princes — yea, a king ! Crowned in the shambles and the prison-pen ! The noblest Slave that ever God set free ! ii.
Page 12 - ... buried yesterday and called a Man! XIX. What final wreath of olive, oak or bay (Which to withhold would do the dead a wrong) Is due him for the fetter, yoke and thong Which, as a Slave, he bore for many a day? If to his wintry burial blooming May Had come herself, chief-mourner of the throng, And stopt his bier as it was borne along, And laid a million lilies on his clay, — Not one of all these fading funeral-flowers Would have survived the frost ! . . . So — (since, alas! Such honours fade)...
Page 9 - To all the pent-up passions of his heart ! — So his Cremona in a troubled hour Beguiled for him a care to a content.* XIV. He came to Paris ; and we paced the streets As if we twain were truants out of school ! We clomb aloft where many a carven ghoul And grinning gargoyle mocked our giddy feats ; We made a sport of sitting in the seats Where Kings of France were wont to sit and rule ! " A throne," quoth he, " is a pretender's stool — For kingship is a fraud, and kings are cheats !
Page 8 - If love of music be a mortal sin (As certain of the saints are wont to say), He was a sinner to his dying day ! For like the rest of his melodious kin A song was what his soul delighted in, — Especially some soft and plaintive lay Which in the old and weird plantation way He loved to echo on his violin.
Page 4 - O tardy Nation, slow agen to learn ! Let not thy former lesson now be lost ! For now thy Northern millions toil in vain ! Beware ! Deny them not the bread they earn ! VI. Shall there be Hunger in a Land of Corn ? Then if— (shut out from idle mill and mine) — Come the bold beggars forth in battle-line, It will be remembered that James Otis was killed by lightning.
Page 4 - I ask myself, Was it a dreadful dream? — A wild, disordered vision of the night ? — That the fair Country of my dear delight, The patriot's paradise, the exile's theme, The Land of Lands, where Freedom reigns supreme, Should once have dared, in God's offended sight, To sin so great a sin...
Page 11 - ... boast that I had known them well ? I was a stripling : so I live to tell, In these degenerate days, how great and grand, How plain and simple, were the noble band Who cried to Heaven against that crime of Hell Which to the auction-block brought Babes to sell, And which on Women burnt a...
Page 11 - Zeus's own — • As godlike as was ever cut in stone ! For if the old god Thor were living now, With his dark visage, with his frosty pow, And with his awe-inspiring thunder-tone, — Such a resembling pair (could both be known) Would pass for twin-born brothers, I avow! The gods are dead, — and all the godlike...

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