Saturday, November 23, 2013

"Ourselves and the Freedmen" (1885)

Ourselves and the Freedman.

We said they should be free,

        We read the written line,

When flamed the word is living light,

        As if it were divine.

No race nor hue, no toil,

        Though unrequited long,

Should be again an argument

        To bolster up a wrong.

And gladly we decreed—

        We thought it wisdom then—

That they who worked and fought and bled

        Should also vote like men.

Decree that salt sea waves

        Shall stir no more the sand;

Think to subdue the winds to rest

        Within your hollowed hand.

But think not that decrees,

        Unless sustained by might,

Will rule o'er those who hold a wrong

        To be their sacred right.

We are not free ourselves,

        Only as we uphold

The trembling and the weak against

        The blustering and the bold.

The freedmen own their rights,

        Their wrongs the nation bears;

When we proclaimed their liberties

        We braided ours with theirs.

If we have coolly seen

        Their new-born rights betrayed,

Can we complain if we ourselves

        In the same coin are paid?

Full many a wrong seems light

        When borne by other men;

The weight transferred unto ourselves

        Is estimated then.

But wrongs at length shall end,

        Though storms again prevail;

He hates the wrong who rules the storm,

        His counsel cannot fail.

Troy Daily Times. January 12, 1885: 1 col 2.

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