The New Year





Addressed to the Patrons of the Pennsylvania Freeman.



THE wave is breaking on the shore,

The echo fading from the chime

Again the shadow moveth o'er

The dial-plate of time!



O seer-seen Angel! waiting now

With weary feet on sea and shore,

Impatient for the last dread vow

That time shall be no more!



Once more across thy sleepless eye

The semblance of a smile has passed:

The year departing leaves more nigh

Time's fearfullest and last.



Oh, in that dying year hath been

The sum of all since time began;

The birth and death, the joy and pain,

Of Nature and of Man.



Spring, with her change of sun and shower,

And streams released from Winter's chain,

And bursting bud, and opening flower,

And greenly growing grain;



And Summer's shade, and sunshine warm,

And rainbows o'er her hill-tops bowed,

And voices in her rising storm;

God speaking from His cloud!



And Autumn's fruits and clustering sheaves,

And soft, warm days of golden light,

The glory of her forest leaves,

And harvest-moon at night;



And Winter with her leafless grove,

And prisoned stream, and drifting snow,

The brilliance of her heaven above

And of her earth below;



And man, in whom an angel's mind

With earth's low instincts finds abode,

The highest of the links which bind

Brute nature to her God;



His infant eye hath seen the light,

His childhood's merriest laughter rung,

And active sports to manlier might

The nerves of boyhood strung!



And quiet love, and passion's fires,

Have soothed or burned in manhood's breast,

And lofty aims and low desires

By turns disturbed his rest.



The wailing of the newly-born

Has mingled with the funeral knell;

And o'er the dying's ear has gone

The merry marriage-bell.



And Wealth has filled his halls with mirth,

While Want, in many a humble shed,

Toiled, shivering by her cheerless hearth,

The live-long night for bread.



And worse than all, the human slave,

The sport of lust, and pride, and scorn!

Plucked off the crown his Maker gave,

His regal manhood gone!



Oh, still, my country! o'er thy plains,

Blackened with slavery's blight and ban,

That human chattel drags his chains,

An uncreated man!



And still, where'er to sun and breeze,

My country, is thy flag unrolled,

With scorn, the gazing stranger sees

A stain on every fold.



Oh, tear the gorgeous emblem down!

It gathers scorn from every eye,

And despots smile and good men frown

Whene'er it passes by.



Shame! shame! its starry splendors glow

Above the slaver's loathsome jail;

Its folds are ruffling even now

His crimson flag of sale.



Still round our country's proudest hall

The trade in human flesh is driven,

And at each careless hammer-fall

A human heart is riven.



And this, too, sanctioned by the men

Vested with power to shield the right,

And throw each vile and robber den

Wide open to the light.



Yet, shame upon them! there they sit,

Men of the North, subdued and still;

Meek, pliant poltroons, only fit

To work a master's will.



Sold, bargained off for Southern votes,

A passive herd of Northern mules,

Just braying through their purchased throats

Whate'er their owner rules.



And he, [2] the basest of the base,

The vilest of the vile, whose name,

Embalmed in infinite disgrace,

Is deathless in its shame!



A tool, to bolt the people's door

Against the people clamoring there,

An ass, to trample on their floor

A people's right of prayer!



Nailed to his self-made gibbet fast,

Self-pilloried to the public view,

A mark for every passing blast

Of scorn to whistle through;



There let him hang, and hear the boast

Of Southrons o'er their pliant tool,--

A new Stylites on his post,

"Sacred to ridicule!"



Look we at home! our noble hall,

To Freedom's holy purpose given,

Now rears its black and ruined wall,

Beneath the wintry heaven,



Telling the story of its doom,

The fiendish mob, the prostrate law,

The fiery jet through midnight's gloom,

Our gazing thousands saw.



Look to our State! the poor man's right

Torn from him: and the sons of those

Whose blood in Freedom's sternest fight

Sprinkled the Jersey snows,



Outlawed within the land of Penn,

That Slavery's guilty fears might cease,

And those whom God created men

Toil on as brutes in peace.



Yet o'er the blackness of the storm

A bow of promise bends on high,

And gleams of sunshine, soft and warm,

Break through our clouded sky.



East, West, and North, the shout is heard,

Of freemen rising for the right

Each valley hath its rallying word,

Each hill its signal light.



O'er Massachusetts' rocks of gray,

The strengthening light of freedom shines,

Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay,

And Vermont's snow-hung pines!



From Hudson's frowning palisades

To Alleghany's laurelled crest,

O'er lakes and prairies, streams and glades,

It shines upon the West.



Speed on the light to those who dwell

In Slavery's land of woe and sin,

And through the blackness of that bell,

Let Heaven's own light break in.



So shall the Southern conscience quake

Before that light poured full and strong,

So shall the Southern heart awake

To all the bondman's wrong.



And from that rich and sunny land

The song of grateful millions rise,

Like that of Israel's ransomed band

Beneath Arabia's skies:



And all who now are bound beneath

Our banner's shade, our eagle's wing,

From Slavery's night of moral death

To light and life shall spring.



Broken the bondman's chain, and gone

The master's guilt, and hate, and fear,

And unto both alike shall dawn

A New and Happy Year.

1839.





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