Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Kettell, ed. > Specimens of American Poetry
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Samuel Kettell, ed.  Specimens of American Poetry.  1829.
 
African Distress
By Theodore Dwight (1764–1846)
 
“HELP! oh, help! thou God of Christians!
  Save a mother from despair!
Cruel white men steal my children!
  God of Christians, hear my prayer!
 
“From my arms by force they’re rended,        5
  Sailors drag them to the sea;
Yonder ship, at anchor riding,
  Swift will carry them away.
 
“There my son lies, stripp’d, and bleeding;
  Fast, with thongs, his hands are bound.        10
See, the tyrants, how they scourge him!
  See his sides a reeking wound
 
“See his little sister by him;
  Quaking, trembling, how she lies!
Drops of blood her face besprinkle;        15
  Tears of anguish fill her eyes.
 
“Now they tear her brother from her;
  Down, below the deck, he’s thrown;
Stiff with beating, through fear silent,
  Save a single, death-like, groan.”        20
 
Hear the little creature begging!—
  “Take me, white men, for your own!
Spare, oh, spare my darling brother!
  He ’s my mother’s only son.
 
“See, upon the shore she’s raving:        25
  Down she falls upon the sands:
Now, she tears her flesh with madness;
  Now, she prays with lifted hands.
 
“I am young, and strong, and hardy;
  He ’s a sick, and feeble boy;        30
Take me, whip me, chain me, starve me,
  All my life I ’ll toil with joy.
 
“Christians! who ’s the God you worship?
  Is he cruel, fierce, or good?
Does he take delight in mercy?        35
  Or in spilling human blood?
 
“Ah, my poor distracted mother!
  Hear her scream upon the shore.”—
Down the savage captain struck her,
  Lifeless on the vessel’s floor.        40
 
Up his sails he quickly hoisted,
  To the ocean bent his way;
Headlong plunged the raving mother,
  From a high rock, in the sea.
 
 
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