Song Of The Negro Boatmen





Oh, praise an' tanks! De Lord he come

To set de people free;

An' massa tink it day ob doom,

An' we ob jubilee.

De Lord dat heap de Red Sea waves

He jus' as 'trong as den;

He say de word: we las' night slaves;

To-day, de Lord's freemen.

De yam will grow, de cotton blow,

We'll hab de rice an' corn;

Oh nebber you fear, if nebber you hear

De driver blow his horn!



Ole massa on he trabbels gone;

He leaf de land behind

De Lord's breff blow him furder on,

Like corn-shuck in de wind.

We own de hoe, we own de plough,

We own de hands dat hold;

We sell de pig, we sell de cow,

But nebber chile be sold.

De yam will grow, de cotton blow,

We'll hab de rice an' corn;

Oh nebber you fear, if nebber you hear

De driver blow his horn!



We pray de Lord: he gib us signs

Dat some day we be free;

De norf-wind tell it to de pines,

De wild-duck to de sea;

We tink it when de church-bell ring,

We dream it in de dream;

De rice-bird mean it when he sing,

De eagle when be scream.

De yam will grow, de cotton blow,

We'll hab de rice an' corn

Oh nebber you fear, if nebber you hear

De driver blow his horn!



We know de promise nebber fail,

An' nebber lie de word;

So like de 'postles in de jail,

We waited for de Lord

An' now he open ebery door,

An' trow away de key;

He tink we lub him so before,

We hub him better free.

De yam will grow, de cotton blow,

He'll gib de rice an' corn;

Oh nebber you fear, if nebber you hear

De driver blow his horn!



So sing our dusky gondoliers;

And with a secret pain,

And smiles that seem akin to tears,

We hear the wild refrain.



We dare not share the negro's trust,

Nor yet his hope deny;

We only know that God is just,

And every wrong shall die.



Rude seems the song; each swarthy face,

Flame-lighted, ruder still

We start to think that hapless race

Must shape our good or ill;



That laws of changeless justice bind

Oppressor with oppressed;

And, close as sin and suffering joined,

We march to Fate abreast.



Sing on, poor hearts! your chant shall be

Our sign of blight or bloom,

The Vala-song of Liberty,

Or death-rune of our doom!

1862.





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