Thompson, Priscilla Jane
|GLEANINGS OF QUIET HOURS.|
|THE OLD FREEDMAN.|
HE sits in front of the bright, blazing grate;
A poor old freedman, maimed and gray;
With worn hands folded, he sits and waits,
His Master's summons, from day to day.
His ebon brow is seamed deeply with care;
His dim eyes, robbed of their scanty sight,
By the dazzling red of the ember's glare,
Sets him to dreaming as thou 'twere night.
And his hard, early life comes, scene by scene,
As acts appear on a play-house stage;
While he sits with a thoughtful smile, serene,
And views the past, in a dreamy maze.
Yes, now he can smile as he thinks on those days,
For the fire of youth has long fled his breast;
He has cast the burden of past care away,
And humbly looks to his Master, for rest.
He hears the fierce screams of his mother, wild,
Anguished and startling, and loud as of old;
While haplessly he, her remaining child,
Is hurried "down the river," and sold.
And now comes the scene of that sugar farm,
Where the lash and fever, rules supreme;
Where the humid, sickly, atmosphere, warm,
Brings on a giddiness, e'en in his dream.
He is hoeing cane, with a stalwart pace,
And with him, a girl, the joy of his life;
With her graceful figure and dark brown face,
And her sunny smile--his own fair wife.
When e'er the overseer's back is turned,
He lends a strong hand to her lagging row;
That her exacting task may be earned,
To ward from her back, the brutal blow.
Despite the appalling crosses of life,
He deems himself, e'en a happy man;
Just to have her near and to call her 'wife',
And to hurriedly press her little worn hand.
The third scene is on, and now he behold,
His Lucy coming with eyes filled with tears;
"Oh Ruben," she's crying, "why I'm to be sold!"
The words fall like doom upon his shocked
Again that dull giddiness, rises within,
His lower limbs weaken, he rests on his hoe;
He feels her embraces again and again,
Then turns she, and back to the
"big house" doth go.
Her fleeting form brings him back to himself;
He drops his hoe, with a desperate groan;
He'll make the rude trader take back his foul pelf
He'll claim his wife, for she is his own.
Oh, futile struggle! he sees his fair love,
Borne off by the rude, evil, trader, who
While he helplessly, calls on his Father above,99And is fiercely, brutally, lashed for his toils,
Oh, let us pass over the dark days that came,
And rev'rently screen this act of his life!
When the anguish of Rizpah, who mourned for
Could not be compared, with his grief o'er
And now, clears the smoke, that is black as the
He stands firm a giant with Gettysburg's brave
The death blows he deals, in the hand to hand
Serve vengeance to rebels who late held him
And now, he is come to the calm years of peace;
His restless wand'rings in search of his wife;
When despaired and discouraged, his wanderings
And he fills with religion, the void of his life.
And now the last scene, the triumphant, the
With dim sight renewed and infirmities, fled,
Fair Lucy once more is pressing his hand,
And Jesus is placing a crown on his head.
For there, in front of the bright blazing, grate,
With a sad, kind, smile, and expressionless eye,
At the end of the day, in the even, late,
He had taken his flight, to his home on high.