Verse > Anthologies > Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. > Poems of Places > France
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed.  Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
France: Vols. IX–X.  1876–79.
 
Besançon
Toussaint L’Ouverture
John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892)
 
(Excerpt)

SLEEP calmly in thy dungeon-tomb,
  Beneath Besançon’s alien sky,
Dark Haytien! for the time shall come—
  Yea, even now is nigh—
When, everywhere, thy name shall be        5
Redeemed from color’s infamy;
And men shall learn to speak of thee
As one of earth’s great spirits, born
In servitude, and nursed in scorn,
Casting aside the weary weight        10
And fetters of its low estate,
In that strong majesty of soul
  Which knows no color, time, or clime,—
Which still hath spurned the base control
  Of tyrants through all time!        15
Far other hands than mine may wreathe
The laurel round thy brow of death,
And speak thy praise, as one whose word
A thousand fiery spirits stirred,—
Who crushed his foeman as a worm,—        20
Whose step on human hearts fell firm;—
Be mine the better task to find
A tribute for thy lofty mind,
Amidst whose gloomy vengeance shone
Some milder virtues all thine own,—        25
Some gleams of feeling pure and warm,
Like sunshine on a sky of storm,—
Proofs that the negro’s heart retains
Some nobleness amidst its chains,—
That kindness to the wronged is never        30
  Without its excellent reward,—
Holy to human-kind, and ever
  Acceptable to God.
 
 
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