The Poetical Works of Elizabeth Margaret Chandler/The Slave-Ship

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The Slave-Ship won a prize for Elizabeth Margaret Chandler in 1825, when she was 18, on its publication in The Casket.

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THE SLAVE-SHIP[edit]

The Slave-ship was winding her course o'er the ocean,
The winds and the waters had sunk into rest;
All hush'd was the whirl of the tempest's commotion,
That late had awaken'd the sailor's devotion,
When terror had kindled remorse in his breast.

And onward she rode, though by curses attended,
Though heavy with guilt was the freight that she bore,
Though with shrieks of despair was the midnight air rended,
And ceaseless the groans of the wretches ascended,
That from friends and from country forever she tore.

On the deck, with his head on his fetter'd hand rested,
He who once was a chief and a warrior stood;
One moment he gain'd, by his foes unmolested,
To think o'er his woes, and the fate he detested,
Till madness was firing his brain and his blood.

“Oh, never!” he murmur'd in anguish, “no, never!
These limbs shall be bent to the menial's toil!
They have reft us, my bride—but they shall not forever
Your chief from his home and his country dissever—
No! never will I be the conqueror's spoil

“Say! long didst thou wait for my coming, my mother?
Did ye bend o'er the desert, my sister, your eye?
And weep at the lengthen'd delay of your brother,
As each slow passing moment was chased by another,
And still he appear'd not a tear-drop to dry.

“But ye shall—yes, again ye shall fondly embrace me!
We will meet my young bride in the land of the blest:
Death, death once again in my country shall place me,
One bound shall forever from fetters release me!”
He burst them, and sunk in the ocean's dark breast.