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    In Memoriam.   Table of Contents     In Memoriam
  --  Paul Laurence Dunbar

Ray, H. Cordelia

- Greeting


To Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe, on her Eighty-fifth Birthday

We greet thee now upon this festal morn,
O Friend of Freedom! thou who in those days
When human rights were scorned and Justice slept,
Though loud the bondman cried, didst dare to raise
Thy voice to aid the lowly. Many a soul
Was roused to nobler thinking, many a heart
Impelled to braver doing by thy words,
And in the contest fitted to bear part.

We read, and lo! a vision rises there.
Who is't comes here? A hero crowned with bay?
Ah, no! a slave in chains, of meekest mien,
Treading with patient step a thorny way.
'Tis Uncle Tom, sad Uncle Tom! He turns,
He backward points, and what do we descry?
Unnumbered hosts in shackles, bleeding, torn,
To whom it were a blessing but to die.

Anon the vision passes! and we see
Another host,--a smiling, happy band.
The chains are torn away, and chants of praise
Vibrate along the mountains, through the land.
Such was the boon that thou didst help to give,
O noble woman! and as years fleet by,
Does not the thought of ransomed Uncle Toms
Moisten with tears of thankfulness thine eye?

For surely naught can e'er avail to check
A blessed influence: it still will live
While the majestic stars in solemn rhythm
Wheel in their mighty orbits. What could give
Such impulse unto Justice as the scenes
On thy pathetic pages? Who could learn
The story of that rare, heroic life,
And not with deepest indignation burn?

The nation's shame was lifted by the force
Of words like thine, far more than by decrees
Of lordliest statesmen in their councils grave.
And when war's din had ceased, and on the breeze
The silv'ry cadence of fair Freedom's chimes
Rang out in joyful measures, was the peal
Not sweeter for the work that thou hadst done?
Whose worth the coming years will still reveal.

So may thy birthday be all bright with bloom
Of happy thoughts, and from the stirring past
May sweetest mem'ries come of those brave deeds
For Freedom ventured. Lo! time speedeth fast,
And loved ones haste again with greeting glad
And as around they flock their gifts to lay
Before thy feet, our dearest prayer is this:
God's peace be thine upon thy natal day!

    In Memoriam.   Table of Contents     In Memoriam
  --  Paul Laurence Dunbar