Song of the Free

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Song of the Free  (1860) 
Anonymous
Song of the Free is a song written in 1860 about a man fleeing slavery in Tennessee by escaping to Canada via the Underground Railroad. It is composed to the tune of Oh! Susanna.
A monograph of lyrics for Song of the Free.
From Library and Archives Canada.


I'm on my way to Canada,
    That cold and dreary land,
The dire effects of slavery
    I can no longer stand,
My soul is vexed within me more
    To think that I'm a slave,
I'm now resolved to strike the blow
    For freedom, or the grave.
Oh, righteous father, wilt thou not pity me,
And aid me on to Canada, where colored men are free.

I heard the Queen of England say
    If we would all forsake
Our native land of slavery
    And come across the lake,
That she was standing on the shore
    With arms extended wide,
To give us all a peaceful home
    Beyond the rolling side.
Farewell old master, that's enough for me,
I'm going straight to Canada where colored men are free.

Grieve not my wife,
    Grieve not for me,
Oh, do not break my heart;
    For nought but cruel slavery
Would cause me to depart,
    If I should stay to quell your grief,
Your grief I would augment,
    For no one knows the day that we
Asunder may be rent.
Oh, Susannah don't cry after me,
I'm going up to Canada where colored men are free.

I served my master all my days
    Without a dime's reward,
But now I'm forced to run away
    To flee the lash abhored,
The hounds are baying on my track
    The master just behind,
Resolved that he will bring me back
    Before I cross the line.
Oh, old master don't come after me
I'm going up to Canada where colored men are free.

I heard old master pray last night,
    I heard him pray for me,
That God would come and in his might
    From Satan set me free,
So I from Satan would escape
    And flee the wrath to come,
If there's a fiend in human shape
    Old Master must be one.
Oh, old master while you pray for me
I'm doing all I can to reach the land of liberty.

Ohio's not the place for me,
    For I was much surprised,
So many of her sons to see
    In garments of disguise;
Her name has gone throughtout the world
    Free labor, soil and men,
But slaves had better far be hurled
    Into a lion's den.
Farewell Ohio, I'm not safe in thee,
I'll travel on to Canada where colored men are free.

I've now embarked for yonder's shore,
    Where man's a man by law,
The vessel soon will bear me o'er
    To shake the Lion's paw;
I no more dread the auctioneer,
    Nor fear the master's frown,
I no more tremble when I hear
    The baying negro hound.
Oh, old master, don't come after me,
I'm just in sight of Canada, where colored men are free.

I've landed safe in Canada,
    Both soul and body free,
My blood and brains and tears no more
    Shall drench old Tennessee;
Yet I behold the scalding tears
    Now streaming from my eye,
To think my wife, my only dear,
    A slave must live and die.
Oh, Susannah, don't grieve after me,
Forever at the throne of God, I will remember thee.

This work was published before January 1, 1923, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.
 

This work is now in the public domain because it originates from Canada and its term of copyright has expired.

According to Canadian copyright law, all private copyrights expire fifty years after the year marking the death of the author. Government works are held under Crown copyright which expires fifty years after publication.