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    SONNETS   Table of Contents     BALLADS AND OTHER POEMS

Ray, H. Cordelia




To My Father

A leaf from Freedom's golden chaplet fair,
We bring to thee, dear father! Near her shrine
None came with holier purpose, nor was thine
Alone the soul's mute sanction; every prayer
Thy captive brother uttered found a share
In thy wide sympathy; to ever'y sign
That told the bondman's need thou didst incline.
No thought of guerdon hadst thou but to bear
A loving part in Freedom's strife. To see
Sad lives illumined, fetters rent in twain,
Tears dried in eyes that wept for length of days--
Ah! was not that a recompense for thee?
And now where all life's mystery is plain,
Divine approval is thy sweetest praise.

William Lloyd Garrison

Written for the Occasion of the Garrison Centenary,
December 10, 1905

Some names there are that win the best applause
Of noble souls; then whose shall more than thine
All honored be? Thou heardst the Voice Divine
Tell thee to gird thyself in Freedom's cause,
And cam'st in life's first bloom. No laggard laws
Could quench thy zeal until no slave should pine
In galling chains, caged in the free sunshine.
Till all the shackles fell, thou wouldst not pause.
So to thee who hast climbed heroic heights,
And led the way to where chaste Justice reigns,
An anthem,-- tears and gratitude and praise,
Its swelling chords,-- uprises and invites
A nation e'en to join the jubilant strains,
Which celebrate thy consecrated days.

Wendell Phillips

A knight of "silver tongue" and stately grace,
Dowered with th' immortal gift of fearlessness,
Whose falcon glance bent to detect distress,
Perceived a brother in each human face,
And deemed the lowliest worthy of a place
In the world's honors,-- such was he. T' impress
Men's minds with lofty purpose seemed success
To this great soul; and to uplift a race
From depths of sorrow compensation vast,
For much life leaves unrecompensed. The seal
Of heroism on his brow more fair
Than leafiest laurel was. Deeds that outlast
The warrior's victories his days reveal,
And unto him we render rev'rence rare.

Charles Sumner

Thine was a brain of Nature's finest mould,
Great Sumner! and thy spirit-poise as rare.
Born-- not to idly dream but nobly dare--
With all the mind's vast forces well controlled,
Thou, like Olympian Jove, didst wisely hold
Stern empire over justice. Thine the care,
That right should rule, and wrong, however fair
In outward seeming, should be shunned. Untold
The influence of thy magnanimity.
Alert in action, sage in counsel thou,
A statesman truly, not alone in name,
Thy regnant soul spurned ev'ry false decree.

Honor was graven on thy shield, and now
We fain would honor thee with loud acclaim.

Robert F. Shaw

When War's red banners trailed along the sky,
And many a manly heart grew all a flame
With patriotic love and purest aim,
There rose a noble soul who dared to die,
If only Right could win. He heard the cry
Of struggling bondmen and he quickly came,
Leaving the haunts where Learning tenders fame
Unto her honored sons; for it was ay
A loftier cause that lured him on to death.
Brave men who saw their brothers held in chains,
Beneath his standard battled ardently.
O friend! O hero! thou who yielded breath
That others might share Freedom's priceless gains,
In rev'rent love we guard thy memory.

Toussaint L'Ouverture

To those fair isles where crimson sunsets burn,
We send a backward glance to gaze on thee,
Brave Toussaint! thou wast surely born to be
A hero; thy proud spirit could but spurn
Each outrage on thy race. Couldst thou unlearn
The lessons taught by instinct? Nay! and we
Who share the zeal that would make all men free,
Must e'en with pride unto thy life-work turn.
Soul-dignity was thine and purest aim;
And ah! how sad that thou wast left to mourn
In chains 'neath alien skies. On him, shame! shame!
That mighty conqueror who dared to claim
The right to bind thee. Him we heap with scorn,
And noble patriot! guard with love thy name.

    SONNETS   Table of Contents     BALLADS AND OTHER POEMS