The Rendition

On the 2d of June, 1854, Anthony Burns, a fugitive slave from Virginia,

after being under arrest for ten days in the Boston Court House, was

remanded to slavery under the Fugitive Slave Act, and taken down State

Street to a steamer chartered by the United States Government, under

guard of United States troops and artillery, Massachusetts militia and

Boston police. Public excitement ran high, a futile attempt to rescue

Burns having been made during his confinement, and the streets were

crowded with tens of thousands of people, of whom many came from other

towns and cities of the State to witness the humiliating spectacle.

I HEARD the train's shrill whistle call,

I saw an earnest look beseech,

And rather by that look than speech

My neighbor told me all.

And, as I thought of Liberty

Marched handcuffed down that sworded street,

The solid earth beneath my feet

Reeled fluid as the sea.

I felt a sense of bitter loss,--

Shame, tearless grief, and stifling wrath,

And loathing fear, as if my path

A serpent stretched across.

All love of home, all pride of place,

All generous confidence and trust,

Sank smothering in that deep disgust

And anguish of disgrace.

Down on my native hills of June,

And home's green quiet, hiding all,

Fell sudden darkness like the fall

Of midnight upon noon.

And Law, an unloosed maniac, strong,

Blood-drunken, through the blackness trod,

Hoarse-shouting in the ear of God

The blasphemy of wrong.

"O Mother, from thy memories proud,

Thy old renown, dear Commonwealth,

Lend this dead air a breeze of health,

And smite with stars this cloud.

"Mother of Freedom, wise and brave,

Rise awful in thy strength," I said;

Ah me! I spake but to the dead;

I stood upon her grave!

6th mo., 1854.

The Relic The Road To The Bow facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail