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The Slave in the Dismal Swamp
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

US nineteenth century poet and author.

Best known for the poem Hiawatha (1855). His first book of poetry was Voices of the Night (1839) which included Hymn to the Night and A Psalm of Life, Ballads and Other Poems (1841) included The Village Blacksmith and The Skeleton in Armor. Among his other works are Outre-Mer: A pilgrimage Beyond the Sea (1833-34), Hyperion (1839), Poems on Slavery (1842), a drama The Spanish Student (1843), Evangeline (1847), Kavanagh and The Seaside and the Fireside (1849), The Courtship of Miles Standish (1858), Tales of a Wayside Inn (1863). Among his last collections were The Masque of Pandora (1875) and In the Harbor (1882). He also wrote a translation of Dante (1865-6) and a trilogy Christus (1872) which incorporated an earlier work The Golden Legend.


The Slave in the Dismal Swamp
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

In dark fens of the Dismal Swamp
The hunted Negro lay;
He saw the fire of the midnight camp,
And heard at times a horse's tramp
And a bloodhound's distant bay.

Where will-o'-the-wisps and glow-worms shine
In bulrush and in brake;
Where waving mosses shroud the pine,
And the cedar grows, and the poisonous vine
Is spotted like the snake;

Where hardly a human foot could pass,
Or a human heart would dare,
On the quaking turf of the green morass
He crouched in the rank and tangled grass
Like a wild beast in his lair.

A poor old slave, infirm and lame;
Great scars deformed his face;
On his forehead he bore the brand of shame,
And the rags, that hid his mangled frame,
Were the livery of disgrace.

All things above were bright and fair,
All things were glad and free;
Lithe squirrels darted here and there,
And wild birds filled the echoing air
With songs of Liberty!

On him alone was the doom of pain,
From the morning of his birth;
On him alone the curse of Cain
Fell, like a flail on the garnered grain,
And struck him to the earth!


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