Literature of Nineteenth Century Reform – Whittier & Child

81 The Farewell (1838) By John Greenleaf Whittier

John Greenleaf Whittier

Of A Virginia Slave Mother To Her Daughters Sold Into Southern Bondage

 

Gone, gone,—sold and gone

To the rice-swamp dank and lone.

Where the slave-whip ceaseless swings

Where the noisome insect stings

Where the fever demon strews

Poison with the falling dews

Where the sickly sunbeams glare

Through the hot and misty air;

Gone, gone,—sold and gone,

To the rice-swamp dank and lone,

From Virginia’s hills and waters;

Woe is me, my stolen daughters!

 

Gone, gone,—sold and gone

To the rice-swamp dank and lone

There no mother’s eye is near them,

There no mother’s ear can hear them;

Never, when the torturing lash

Seams their back with many a gash

Shall a mother’s kindness bless them

Or a mother’s arms caress them.

Gone, gone,—sold and gone,

To the rice-swamp dank and lone,

From Virginia’s hills and waters;

Woe is me, my stolen daughters!

 

Gone, gone,—sold and gone,

To the rice-swamp dank and lone,

Oh, when weary, sad, and slow,

From the fields at night they go

Faint with toil, and racked with pain

To their cheerless homes again,

There no brother’s voice shall greet them

There no father’s welcome meet them.

Gone, gone,—sold and gone,

To the rice-swamp dank and lone,

From Virginia’s hills and waters;

Woe is me, my stolen daughters!

 

Gone, gone,—sold and gone,

To the rice-swamp dank and lone

From the tree whose shadow lay

On their childhood’s place of play;

From the cool sprmg where they drank;

Rock, and hill, and rivulet bank;

From the solemn house of prayer,

And the holy counsels there;

Gone, gone,—sold and gone,

To the rice-swamp dank and lone,

From Virginia’s hills and waters;

Woe is me, my stolen daughters!

 

Gone, gone,—sold and gone,

To the rice-swamp dank and lone;

Toiling through the weary day,

And at night the spoiler’s prey.

Oh, that they had earlier died,

Sleeping calmly, side by side,

Where the tyrant’s power is o’er

And the fetter galls no more!

Gone, gone,—sold and gone,

To the rice-swamp dank and lone;

From Virginia’s hills and waters

Woe is me, my stolen daughters!

 

Gone, gone,—sold and gone,

To the rice-swamp dank and lone;

By the holy love He beareth;

By the bruised reed He spareth;

Oh, may He, to whom alone

All their cruel wrongs are known,

Still their hope and refuge prove,

With a more than mother’s love.

Gone, gone,—sold and gone,

To the rice-swamp dank and lone,

From Virginia’s hills and waters;

 

Source:

Becoming America, Wendy Kurant, ed., CC-BY-SA

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American Literatures Prior to 1865 by John Greenleaf Whittier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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