Richard Henry Horne: The Slave


Before us in the sultry dawn arose
  Indigo-tinted mountains; and ere noon
  We near’d an isle that lay like a festoon,
And shar’d the ocean’s glittering repose.
We saw plantations spotted with white huts;       
  Estates midst orange groves and towering trees;
  Rich yellow lawns embrown’d by soft degrees;
Plots of intense gold freak’d with shady nuts.
A dead hot silence tranced sea, land, and sky:
  And now a long canoe came gliding forth,       
  Wherein there sat an old man fierce and swarth
Tiger-faced, black-fang’d, and with jaundiced eye.
Pure white, with pale blue chequer’d, and red fold
  Of head-cloth ’neath straw brim, this Master wore;
  While in the sun-glare stood with high-rais’d oar       
A naked Image all of burnish’d gold.
Golden his bones—high-valued in the mart,
  His minted muscles, and his glossy skin;
  Golden his life of action—but within
The slave is human in a bleeding heart.

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