The Negro’s Complaint (published in France in 1852) (1)


Forced from my home and all its pleasures,

Afric’c coats I left forlorn

To increase a stranger’s treasures,

O'er the raging billows borne.

Men from England bought and sold me,

Paid my price in paltry gold ;

But, though slave they have enroll’me,

Minds are never. to be sold.

Still in though as free as ever,

What are Engand's rights, I ask,

Me from my deIights so sever,

Me to torture, me to task ?

Fleecy looks and black complexion

Cannot forfeit Nature's daim ;

Skins may differ, but affection

Dwells in white and black the same.

Whyy did all-creating Nature,

Make the plant for which we toil?

Sighs must fan it, tears must water,

Sweat of ours must dress the soil.

Think, ye masters, iron-hearted,

Lolling at your jovial boards;

Think how many backs have smarted

For the sweets vour cane affords.

Is there, as you sometimes tell us,

Is there One who reigns on high ?

Has he bid you buy and sell us,

Speaking from his throne, the sky ?

Ask him if your knotted scourses,

Matches, blood-extorting screws,

Are the means that duty urges,

Agents of his will to use ?

Hark ! he answers. - Wild tornadoes,

Stewing yonder sea witn wrecks ;

Wasting towns, plantations, meadows,

Are the voice with which he speaks,

He, foreseeing what vexations

Afric’s sons should undergo,

Fix’d their tyrant’s habitation

Where his whirlwinds answer - No.

But our blood in Afric wasted,

Ere our necks receiv’d the chain ;

By the miseries we tasted,

Crossing in your barks the main :

By our suffering since you brought us

To the man degrading mart ;

All sustain’d by patience taught us

Only by broken heart !

Deem our nations brutes no longer,

Till some reason ye shall find,

Worthier of regard, and stronger,

Than the coulour of our kinf.

Slaves of gold, whose sordid dealings,

Tarnish all your boasted powers,

Prove that you have human fealings,

Ere your proudly question ours !



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