Verse > Anthologies > James and Mary Ford, eds. > Every Day in the Year
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James and Mary Ford, eds.  Every Day in the Year.  1902.
 
June 12
The Kidnapping of Sims
By John Pierpont (1785–1866)
 
          Sims was a fugitive slave, retaken June 12, 1841.

SOULS of the patriot dead
On Bunker’s height who bled!
  The pile, that stands
On your long-buried bones—
Those monumental stones—        5
Should not suppress the groans
  This day demands.
 
For Freedom there ye stood;
There gave the earth your blood;
  There found your graves;        10
That men of every clime,
Faith, color, tongue, and time,
Might, through your death sublime,
  Never be slaves.
 
Over your bed, so low,        15
Heard ye not, long ago,
  A voice of power
Proclaim to earth and sea,
That where ye sleep should be
A home for Liberty        20
  Till Time’s last hour?
 
Hear ye the chains of slaves,
Now clanking round your graves?
  Hear ye the sound
Of that same voice that calls        25
From out our Senate halls,
“Hunt down those fleeing thralls,
  With horse and hound!”
 
That voice your sons hath swayed!
’Tis heard, and is obeyed!        30
  This gloomy day
Tells you of ermine stained,
Of Justice’s name profaned,
Of a poor bondman chained
  And borne away!        35
 
Over Virginia’s Springs,
  Her eagles spread their wings,
    Her Blue Ridge towers—
  That voice—once heard with awe—
Now asks, “Who ever saw,        40
  Up there, a higher law
    Than this of ours?”
 
Must we obey that voice?
When God or man’s the choice,
  Must we postpone        45
Him, who from Sinai spoke?
Must we wear slavery’s yoke?
Bear of her lash the stroke,
  And prop her throne?
 
Lashed with her hounds, must we        50
Run down the poor who flee
  From slavery’s hell?
Great God! when we do this
Exclude us from thy bliss;
At us let angels hiss        55
  From heaven that fell!
 
 
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