Nonfiction > E.C. Stedman & E.M. Hutchinson, eds. > A Library of American Literature > 1835–1860
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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps.  A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes.  1891.
Vols. VI–VIII: Literature of the Republic, Part III., 1835–1860
 
The Farewell of a Virginia Slave Mother to her Daughters sold into Southern Bondage
By John Greenleaf Whittier (1807–1892)
 
[From Poetical Works. 1886.]

    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        5
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,        10
    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,        15
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.        20
    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,        25
    To the rice-swamp dank and lone.
O, when weary, sad, and slow,
From the fields at night they go,
Faint with toil, and racked with pain,
To their cheerless homes again,        30
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,—        35
    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,—        40
From the cool spring 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,        45
    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,—        50
Toiling through the weary day,
And at night the spoiler’s prey.
O that they had earlier died,
Sleeping calmly, side by side,
Where the tyrant’s power is o’er,        55
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!        60
 
    Gone, gone,—sold and gone,
    To the rice-swamp dank and lone.
By the holy love He beareth,—
By the bruisèd reed He spareth,—
O, may He, to whom alone        65
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,        70
    From Virginia’s hills and waters,—
    Woe is me, my stolen daughters!

  1849.
 
 
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