Poems (1898)/Man

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For works with similar titles, see Man.
For other versions of this work, see Man (Coates).


I was born as free as the silvery light
 That laughs in a Southern fountain;
Free as the sea-fed bird that nests
 On a Scandinavian mountain,
Free as the wind that mocks at the sway
 And pinioning clasp of another,
Yet in the slave they scourged to-day
 I saw and knew—my brother!

Vested in purple I sat apart,
 But the cord that smote him bruised me;
I closed my ears, but the sob that broke
 From his savage breast accused me;
No phrase of reasoning judgement just
 The plaint of my soul could smother,
A creature vile, abased to the dust,
 I knew him still—my brother.

And the autumn day that had smiled so fair
 Seemed suddenly overclouded;
A gloom, more dreadful than Nature owns,
 My human mind enshrouded;
I thought of the power benign that made
 And bound men one to the other,
And I felt in my brother's fear afraid,
 And ashamed in the shame of my brother.