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Best Famous Slavery Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Slavery poems. This is a select list of the best famous Slavery poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Slavery poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of slavery poems.

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Written by Tupac Shakur | Create an image from this poem

Liberty Needs Glasses

excuse me but lady liberty needs glasses
and so does mrs justice by her side
both the broads r blind as bats
stumbling thru the system
justice bumbed into mutulu and
trippin on geronimo pratt
but stepped right over oliver
and his crooked partner ronnie
justice stubbed her big toe on mandela
and liberty was misquoted by the indians
slavery was a learning phase
forgotten with out a verdict
while justice is on a rampage
4 endangered surviving black males
i mean really if anyone really valued life
and cared about the masses
theyd take em both 2 pen optical
and get 2 pair of glasses


Written by Langston Hughes | Create an image from this poem

Freedoms Plow

 When a man starts out with nothing,
 When a man starts out with his hands
 Empty, but clean,
 When a man starts to build a world,
He starts first with himself
And the faith that is in his heart-
The strength there,
The will there to build.
First in the heart is the dream- Then the mind starts seeking a way.
His eyes look out on the world, On the great wooded world, On the rich soil of the world, On the rivers of the world.
The eyes see there materials for building, See the difficulties, too, and the obstacles.
The mind seeks a way to overcome these obstacles.
The hand seeks tools to cut the wood, To till the soil, and harness the power of the waters.
Then the hand seeks other hands to help, A community of hands to help- Thus the dream becomes not one man's dream alone, But a community dream.
Not my dream alone, but our dream.
Not my world alone, But your world and my world, Belonging to all the hands who build.
A long time ago, but not too long ago, Ships came from across the sea Bringing the Pilgrims and prayer-makers, Adventurers and booty seekers, Free men and indentured servants, Slave men and slave masters, all new- To a new world, America! With billowing sails the galleons came Bringing men and dreams, women and dreams.
In little bands together, Heart reaching out to heart, Hand reaching out to hand, They began to build our land.
Some were free hands Seeking a greater freedom, Some were indentured hands Hoping to find their freedom, Some were slave hands Guarding in their hearts the seed of freedom, But the word was there always: Freedom.
Down into the earth went the plow In the free hands and the slave hands, In indentured hands and adventurous hands, Turning the rich soil went the plow in many hands That planted and harvested the food that fed And the cotton that clothed America.
Clang against the trees went the ax into many hands That hewed and shaped the rooftops of America.
Splash into the rivers and the seas went the boat-hulls That moved and transported America.
Crack went the whips that drove the horses Across the plains of America.
Free hands and slave hands, Indentured hands, adventurous hands, White hands and black hands Held the plow handles, Ax handles, hammer handles, Launched the boats and whipped the horses That fed and housed and moved America.
Thus together through labor, All these hands made America.
Labor! Out of labor came villages And the towns that grew cities.
Labor! Out of labor came the rowboats And the sailboats and the steamboats, Came the wagons, and the coaches, Covered wagons, stage coaches, Out of labor came the factories, Came the foundries, came the railroads.
Came the marts and markets, shops and stores, Came the mighty products moulded, manufactured, Sold in shops, piled in warehouses, Shipped the wide world over: Out of labor-white hands and black hands- Came the dream, the strength, the will, And the way to build America.
Now it is Me here, and You there.
Now it's Manhattan, Chicago, Seattle, New Orleans, Boston and El Paso- Now it's the U.
S.
A.
A long time ago, but not too long ago, a man said: ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL-- ENDOWED BY THEIR CREATOR WITH CERTAIN UNALIENABLE RIGHTS-- AMONG THESE LIFE, LIBERTY AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS.
His name was Jefferson.
There were slaves then, But in their hearts the slaves believed him, too, And silently too for granted That what he said was also meant for them.
It was a long time ago, But not so long ago at that, Lincoln said: NO MAN IS GOOD ENOUGH TO GOVERN ANOTHER MAN WITHOUT THAT OTHER'S CONSENT.
There were slaves then, too, But in their hearts the slaves knew What he said must be meant for every human being- Else it had no meaning for anyone.
Then a man said: BETTER TO DIE FREE THAN TO LIVE SLAVES He was a colored man who had been a slave But had run away to freedom.
And the slaves knew What Frederick Douglass said was true.
With John Brown at Harper's Ferry, Negroes died.
John Brown was hung.
Before the Civil War, days were dark, And nobody knew for sure When freedom would triumph "Or if it would," thought some.
But others new it had to triumph.
In those dark days of slavery, Guarding in their hearts the seed of freedom, The slaves made up a song: Keep Your Hand On The Plow! Hold On! That song meant just what it said: Hold On! Freedom will come! Keep Your Hand On The Plow! Hold On! Out of war it came, bloody and terrible! But it came! Some there were, as always, Who doubted that the war would end right, That the slaves would be free, Or that the union would stand, But now we know how it all came out.
Out of the darkest days for people and a nation, We know now how it came out.
There was light when the battle clouds rolled away.
There was a great wooded land, And men united as a nation.
America is a dream.
The poet says it was promises.
The people say it is promises-that will come true.
The people do not always say things out loud, Nor write them down on paper.
The people often hold Great thoughts in their deepest hearts And sometimes only blunderingly express them, Haltingly and stumblingly say them, And faultily put them into practice.
The people do not always understand each other.
But there is, somewhere there, Always the trying to understand, And the trying to say, "You are a man.
Together we are building our land.
" America! Land created in common, Dream nourished in common, Keep your hand on the plow! Hold on! If the house is not yet finished, Don't be discouraged, builder! If the fight is not yet won, Don't be weary, soldier! The plan and the pattern is here, Woven from the beginning Into the warp and woof of America: ALL MEN ARE CREATED EQUAL.
NO MAN IS GOOD ENOUGH TO GOVERN ANOTHER MAN WITHOUT HIS CONSENT.
BETTER DIE FREE, THAN TO LIVE SLAVES.
Who said those things? Americans! Who owns those words? America! Who is America? You, me! We are America! To the enemy who would conquer us from without, We say, NO! To the enemy who would divide And conquer us from within, We say, NO! FREEDOM! BROTHERHOOD! DEMOCRACY! To all the enemies of these great words: We say, NO! A long time ago, An enslaved people heading toward freedom Made up a song: Keep Your Hand On The Plow! Hold On! The plow plowed a new furrow Across the field of history.
Into that furrow the freedom seed was dropped.
From that seed a tree grew, is growing, will ever grow.
That tree is for everybody, For all America, for all the world.
May its branches spread and shelter grow Until all races and all peoples know its shade.
KEEP YOUR HAND ON THE PLOW! HOLD ON!
Written by Audre Lorde | Create an image from this poem

Who Said It Was Simple

 There are so many roots to the tree of anger 
that sometimes the branches shatter 
before they bear.
Sitting in Nedicks the women rally before they march discussing the problematic girls they hire to make them free.
An almost white counterman passes a waiting brother to serve them first and the ladies neither notice nor reject the slighter pleasures of their slavery.
But I who am bound by my mirror as well as my bed see causes in color as well as sex and sit here wondering which me will survive all these liberations.
Written by Mary Darby Robinson | Create an image from this poem

The Negro Girl

 I.
Dark was the dawn, and o'er the deep The boist'rous whirlwinds blew; The Sea-bird wheel'd its circling sweep, And all was drear to view-- When on the beach that binds the western shore The love-lorn ZELMA stood, list'ning the tempest's roar.
II.
Her eager Eyes beheld the main, While on her DRACO dear She madly call'd, but call'd in vain, No sound could DRACO hear, Save the shrill yelling of the fateful blast, While ev'ry Seaman's heart, quick shudder'd as it past.
III.
White were the billows, wide display'd The clouds were black and low; The Bittern shriek'd, a gliding shade Seem'd o'er the waves to go ! The livid flash illum'd the clam'rous main, While ZELMA pour'd, unmark'd, her melancholy strain.
IV.
"Be still!" she cried, "loud tempest cease! "O ! spare the gallant souls: "The thunder rolls--the winds increase-- "The Sea, like mountains, rolls! "While, from the deck, the storm worn victims leap, "And o'er their struggling limbs, the furious billows sweep.
V.
"O! barb'rous Pow'r! relentless Fate! "Does Heav'n's high will decree "That some should sleep on beds of state,-- "Some, in the roaring Sea ? "Some, nurs'd in splendour, deal Oppression's blow, "While worth and DRACO pine--in Slavery and woe! VI.
"Yon Vessel oft has plough'd the main "With human traffic fraught; "Its cargo,--our dark Sons of pain-- "For worldly treasure bought ! "What had they done?--O Nature tell me why-- "Is taunting scorn the lot, of thy dark progeny? VII.
"Thou gav'st, in thy caprice, the Soul "Peculiarly enshrin'd; "Nor from the ebon Casket stole "The Jewel of the mind! "Then wherefore let the suff'ring Negro's breast "Bow to his fellow, MAN, in brighter colours drest.
VIII.
"Is it the dim and glossy hue "That marks him for despair?-- "While men with blood their hands embrue, "And mock the wretch's pray'r? "Shall guiltless Slaves the Scourge of tyrants feel, "And, e'en before their GOD ! unheard, unpitied kneel.
IX.
"Could the proud rulers of the land "Our Sable race behold; "Some bow'd by torture's Giant hand "And others, basely sold ! "Then would they pity Slaves, and cry, with shame, "Whate'er their TINTS may be, their SOULS are still the same! X.
"Why seek to mock the Ethiop's face? "Why goad our hapless kind? "Can features alienate the race-- "Is there no kindred mind? "Does not the cheek which vaunts the roseate hue "Oft blush for crimes, that Ethiops never knew? XI.
"Behold ! the angry waves conspire "To check the barb'rous toil! "While wounded Nature's vengeful ire-- "Roars, round this trembling Isle! "And hark ! her voice re-echoes in the wind-- "Man was not form'd by Heav'n, to trample on his kind! XII.
"Torn from my Mother's aching breast, "My Tyrant sought my love-- "But, in the Grave shall ZELMA rest, "E'er she will faithless prove-- "No DRACO!--Thy companion I will be "To that celestial realm, where Negros shall be free! XIII.
"The Tyrant WHITE MAN taught my mind-- "The letter'd page to trace;-- "He taught me in the Soul to find "No tint, as in the face: "He bade my Reason, blossom like the tree-- "But fond affection gave, the ripen'd fruits to thee.
XIV.
"With jealous rage he mark'd my love "He sent thee far away;-- "And prison'd in the plantain grove-- "Poor ZELMA pass'd the day-- "But ere the moon rose high above the main, "ZELMA, and Love contriv'd, to break the Tyrant's chain.
XV.
"Swift, o'er the plain of burning Sand "My course I bent to thee; "And soon I reach'd the billowy strand "Which bounds the stormy Sea.
-- "DRACO! my Love! Oh yet, thy ZELMA'S soul "Springs ardently to thee,--impatient of controul.
XVI.
"Again the lightning flashes white-- "The rattling cords among! "Now, by the transient vivid light, "I mark the frantic throng! "Now up the tatter'd shrouds my DRACO flies-- While o'er the plunging prow, the curling billows rise.
XVII.
"The topmast falls--three shackled slaves-- "Cling to the Vessel's side! "Now lost amid the madd'ning waves-- "Now on the mast they ride-- "See ! on the forecastle my DRACO stands "And now he waves his chain, now clasps his bleeding hands.
XVIII.
"Why, cruel WHITE-MAN! when away "My sable Love was torn, "Why did you let poor ZELMA stay, On Afric's sands to mourn? "No ! ZELMA is not left, for she will prove "In the deep troubled main, her fond--her faithful LOVE.
" XIX.
The lab'ring Ship was now a wreck, The shrouds were flutt'ring wide! The rudder gone, the lofty deck Was rock'd from side to side-- Poor ZELMA'S eyes now dropp'd their last big tear, While, from her tawny cheek, the blood recoil'd with fear.
XX.
Now frantic, on the sands she roam'd, Now shrieking stop'd to view Where high the liquid mountains foam'd, Around the exhausted crew-- 'Till, from the deck, her DRACO'S well known form Sprung mid the yawning waves, and buffetted the Storm.
XXI.
Long, on the swelling surge sustain'd Brave DRACO sought the shore, Watch'd the dark Maid, but ne'er complain'd, Then sunk, to gaze no more! Poor ZELMA saw him buried by the wave-- And, with her heart's true Love, plung'd in a wat'ry grave.
Written by Sidney Lanier | Create an image from this poem

The Crystal

 At midnight, death's and truth's unlocking time,
When far within the spirit's hearing rolls
The great soft rumble of the course of things --
A bulk of silence in a mask of sound, --
When darkness clears our vision that by day
Is sun-blind, and the soul's a ravening owl
For truth and flitteth here and there about
Low-lying woody tracts of time and oft
Is minded for to sit upon a bough,
Dry-dead and sharp, of some long-stricken tree
And muse in that gaunt place, -- 'twas then my heart,
Deep in the meditative dark, cried out:

"Ye companies of governor-spirits grave,
Bards, and old bringers-down of flaming news
From steep-wall'd heavens, holy malcontents,
Sweet seers, and stellar visionaries, all
That brood about the skies of poesy,
Full bright ye shine, insuperable stars;
Yet, if a man look hard upon you, none
With total lustre blazeth, no, not one
But hath some heinous freckle of the flesh
Upon his shining cheek, not one but winks
His ray, opaqued with intermittent mist
Of defect; yea, you masters all must ask
Some sweet forgiveness, which we leap to give,
We lovers of you, heavenly-glad to meet
Your largesse so with love, and interplight
Your geniuses with our mortalities.
Thus unto thee, O sweetest Shakespeare sole, A hundred hurts a day I do forgive ('Tis little, but, enchantment! 'tis for thee): Small curious quibble; Juliet's prurient pun In the poor, pale face of Romeo's fancied death; Cold rant of Richard; Henry's fustian roar Which frights away that sleep he invocates; Wronged Valentine's unnatural haste to yield; Too-silly shifts of maids that mask as men In faint disguises that could ne'er disguise -- Viola, Julia, Portia, Rosalind; Fatigues most drear, and needless overtax Of speech obscure that had as lief be plain; Last I forgive (with more delight, because 'Tis more to do) the labored-lewd discourse That e'en thy young invention's youngest heir Besmirched the world with.
Father Homer, thee, Thee also I forgive thy sandy wastes Of prose and catalogue, thy drear harangues That tease the patience of the centuries, Thy sleazy scrap of story, -- but a rogue's Rape of a light-o'-love, -- too soiled a patch To broider with the gods.
Thee, Socrates, Thou dear and very strong one, I forgive Thy year-worn cloak, thine iron stringencies That were but dandy upside-down, thy words Of truth that, mildlier spoke, had mainlier wrought.
So, Buddha, beautiful! I pardon thee That all the All thou hadst for needy man Was Nothing, and thy Best of being was But not to be.
Worn Dante, I forgive The implacable hates that in thy horrid hells Or burn or freeze thy fellows, never loosed By death, nor time, nor love.
And I forgive Thee, Milton, those thy comic-dreadful wars Where, armed with gross and inconclusive steel, Immortals smite immortals mortalwise And fill all heaven with folly.
Also thee, Brave Aeschylus, thee I forgive, for that Thine eye, by bare bright justice basilisked, Turned not, nor ever learned to look where Love Stands shining.
So, unto thee, Lucretius mine (For oh, what heart hath loved thee like to this That's now complaining?), freely I forgive Thy logic poor, thine error rich, thine earth Whose graves eat souls and all.
Yea, all you hearts Of beauty, and sweet righteous lovers large: Aurelius fine, oft superfine; mild Saint A Kempis, overmild; Epictetus, Whiles low in thought, still with old slavery tinct; Rapt Behmen, rapt too far; high Swedenborg, O'ertoppling; Langley, that with but a touch Of art hadst sung Piers Plowman to the top Of English songs, whereof 'tis dearest, now, And most adorable; Caedmon, in the morn A-calling angels with the cow-herd's call That late brought up the cattle; Emerson, Most wise, that yet, in finding Wisdom, lost Thy Self, sometimes; tense Keats, with angels' nerves Where men's were better; Tennyson, largest voice Since Milton, yet some register of wit Wanting; -- all, all, I pardon, ere 'tis asked, Your more or less, your little mole that marks You brother and your kinship seals to man.
But Thee, but Thee, O sovereign Seer of time, But Thee, O poets' Poet, Wisdom's Tongue, But Thee, O man's best Man, O love's best Love, O perfect life in perfect labor writ, O all men's Comrade, Servant, King, or Priest, -- What `if' or `yet', what mole, what flaw, what lapse, What least defect or shadow of defect, What rumor, tattled by an enemy, Of inference loose, what lack of grace Even in torture's grasp, or sleep's, or death's, -- Oh, what amiss may I forgive in Thee, Jesus, good Paragon, thou Crystal Christ?"
Written by W. E. B. Du Bois | Create an image from this poem

My Country 'Tis of Thee

Of course you have faced the dilemma: it is announced, they all smirk and rise. If they are ultra, they remove their hats and look ecstatic; then they look at you. What shall you do? Noblesse oblige; you cannot be boorish, or ungracious; and too, after all it is your country and you do love its ideals if not all of its realities. Now, then, I have thought of a way out: Arise, gracefully remove your hat, and tilt your head. Then sing as follows, powerfully and with deep unction. They’ll hardly note the little changes and their feelings and your conscience will thus be saved: 

My country tis of thee, 
Late land of slavery, 
         Of thee I sing. 
Land where my father’s pride 
Slept where my mother died, 
From every mountain side 
         Let freedom ring! 

My native country thee 
Land of the slave set free, 
         Thy fame I love. 
I love thy rocks and rills 
And o’er thy hate which chills, 
My heart with purpose thrills, 
         To rise above. 

Let laments swell the breeze 
And wring from all the trees 
          Sweet freedom’s song. 
Let laggard tongues awake, 
Let all who hear partake, 
Let Southern silence quake, 
         The sound prolong. 

Our fathers’ God to thee 
Author of Liberty, 
         To thee we sing 
Soon may our land be bright, 
With Freedom’s happy light 
Protect us by Thy might, 
         Great God our King.
Written by John Davidson | Create an image from this poem

War Song

 Remember the Glories of Brien the Brave


Remember the glories of Brien the brave, 
Though the days of the hero are o'er, 
Though lost to Mononia and cold to the grave, 
He returns to Kinkora no more.
That star of the field, which so often hath pour'd Its beam on the battle, is set; But enough of its glory remains on each sword, To light us to victory yet.
Mononia! when Nature embellish'd the tint Of thy fields, and thy mountains so fair, Did she ever intend that a tyrant should print The footstep of slavery there? No! Freedom, whose smile we shall never resign, Go, tell our invaders, the Danes, That 'tis sweeter to bleed for an age at thy shrine, Than to sleep but a moment in chains.
Forget not our wounded companions who stoood In the day of distress by our side; While the moss of the valley grew red with their blood, They stirr'd not, but conquer'd and died.
That sun which now blesses our arms with his light, Saw them fall upon Ossory's plain; -- Oh! let him not blush, when he leaves us to-night, To find that they fell there in vain.


Written by Robinson Jeffers | Create an image from this poem

Contemplation Of The Sword

 Reason will not decide at last; the sword will decide.
The sword: an obsolete instrument of bronze or steel, formerly used to kill men, but here In the sense of a symbol.
The sword: that is: the storms and counter-storms of general destruction; killing of men, Destruction of all goods and materials; massacre, more or less intentional, of children and women; Destruction poured down from wings, the air made accomplice, the innocent air Perverted into assasin and poisoner.
The sword: that is: treachery and cowardice, incredible baseness, incredible courage, loyalties, insanities.
The sword: weeping and despair, mass-enslavement, mass-tourture, frustration of all hopes That starred man's forhead.
Tyranny for freedom, horror for happiness, famine for bread, carrion for children.
Reason will not decide at last, the sword will decide.
Dear God, who are the whole splendor of things and the sacred stars, but also the cruelty and greed, the treacheries And vileness, insanities and filth and anguish: now that this thing comes near us again I am finding it hard To praise you with a whole heart.
I know what pain is, but pain can shine.
I know what death is, I have sometimes Longed for it.
But cruelty and slavery and degredation, pestilence, filth, the pitifulness Of men like hurt little birds and animals .
.
.
if you were only Waves beating rock, the wind and the iron-cored earth, With what a heart I could praise your beauty.
You will not repent, nor cancel life, nor free man from anguish For many ages to come.
You are the one that tortures himself to discover himself: I am One that watches you and discovers you, and praises you in little parables, idyl or tragedy, beautiful Intolerable God.
The sword: that is: I have two sons whom I love.
They are twins, they were born in nineteen sixteen, which seemed to us a dark year Of a great war, and they are now of the age That war prefers.
The first-born is like his mother, he is so beautiful That persons I hardly know have stopped me on the street to speak of the grave beauty of the boy's face.
The second-born has strength for his beauty; when he strips for swimming the hero shoulders and wrestler loins Make him seem clothed.
The sword: that is: loathsome disfigurements, blindness, mutilation, locked lips of boys Too proud to scream.
Reason will not decide at last: the sword will decide.
Written by Robert Southey | Create an image from this poem

Poems On The Slave Trade - Sonnet V

 Did then the bold Slave rear at last the Sword
Of Vengeance? drench'd he deep its thirsty blade
In the cold bosom of his tyrant lord?
Oh! who shall blame him? thro' the midnight shade
Still o'er his tortur'd memory rush'd the thought
Of every past delight; his native grove,
Friendship's best joys, and Liberty and Love,
All lost for ever! then Remembrance wrought
His soul to madness; round his restless bed
Freedom's pale spectre stalk'd, with a stern smile
Pointing the wounds of slavery, the while
She shook her chains and hung her sullen head:
No more on Heaven he calls with fruitless breath,
But sweetens with revenge, the draught of death.
Written by Walt Whitman | Create an image from this poem

Unnamed Lands

 NATIONS ten thousand years before These States, and many times ten thousand years before
 These
 States; 
Garner’d clusters of ages, that men and women like us grew up and travel’d their
 course, and pass’d on; 
What vast-built cities—what orderly republics—what pastoral tribes and nomads; 
What histories, rulers, heroes, perhaps transcending all others; 
What laws, customs, wealth, arts, traditions;
What sort of marriage—what costumes—what physiology and phrenology; 
What of liberty and slavery among them—what they thought of death and the soul; 
Who were witty and wise—who beautiful and poetic—who brutish and
 undevelop’d; 
Not a mark, not a record remains—And yet all remains.
O I know that those men and women were not for nothing, any more than we are for nothing; I know that they belong to the scheme of the world every bit as much as we now belong to it, and as all will henceforth belong to it.
Afar they stand—yet near to me they stand, Some with oval countenances, learn’d and calm, Some naked and savage—Some like huge collections of insects, Some in tents—herdsmen, patriarchs, tribes, horsemen, Some prowling through woods—Some living peaceably on farms, laboring, reaping, filling barns, Some traversing paved avenues, amid temples, palaces, factories, libraries, shows, courts, theatres, wonderful monuments.
Are those billions of men really gone? Are those women of the old experience of the earth gone? Do their lives, cities, arts, rest only with us? Did they achieve nothing for good, for themselves? I believe of all those billions of men and women that fill’d the unnamed lands, every one exists this hour, here or elsewhere, invisible to us, in exact proportion to what he or she grew from in life, and out of what he or she did, felt, became, loved, sinn’d, in life.
I believe that was not the end of those nations, or any person of them, any more than this shall be the end of my nation, or of me; Of their languages, governments, marriage, literature, products, games, wars, manners, crimes, prisons, slaves, heroes, poets, I suspect their results curiously await in the yet unseen world—counterparts of what accrued to them in the seen world.
I suspect I shall meet them there, I suspect I shall there find each old particular of those unnamed lands.
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