Take sackcloth of the darkest dye, And shroud the pulpits round! Servants of Him that cannot lie, Sit mourning on the ground. Let holy horror blanch each cheek, Pale every brow with fears; And rocks and stones, if ye could speak, Ye well might melt to tears! Let sorrow breathe in every tone, In every strain ye raise; Insult not God's majestic throne With th' mockery of praise. A "reverend" man, whose light should be The guide of age and youth, Brings to the shrine of Slavery The sacrifice of truth! For the direst wrong by man imposed, Since Sodom's fearful cry, The word of life has been unclos'd, To give your God the lie. Oh! when ye pray for heathen lands, And plead for their dark shores, Remember Slavery's cruel hands Make heathens at your doors!
Frances Ellen Watkins Harper - 1825-1911
Learning to Read
Very soon the Yankee teachers Came down and set up school; But, oh! how the Rebs did hate it,— It was agin' their rule. Our masters always tried to hide Book learning from our eyes; Knowledge didn't agree with slavery— 'Twould make us all too wise. But some of us would try to steal A little from the book, And put the words together, And learn by hook or crook. I remember Uncle Caldwell, Who took pot-liquor fat And greased the pages of his book, And hid it in his hat. And had his master ever seen The leaves up on his head, He'd have thought them greasy papers, But nothing to be read. And there was Mr. Turner's Ben, Who heard the children spell, And picked the words right up by heart, And learned to read 'em well. Well, the Northern folks kept sending The Yankee teachers down; And they stood right up and helped us, Though Rebs did sneer and frown. And, I longed to read my Bible, For precious words it said; But when I begun to learn it, Folks just shook their heads, And said there is no use trying, Oh! Chloe, you're too late; But as I was rising sixty, I had no time to wait. So I got a pair of glasses, And straight to work I went, And never stopped till I could read The hymns and Testament. Then I got a little cabin— A place to call my own— And I felt as independent As the queen upon her throne.