The Salutation

To date my being from the opening year,
I come, a stranger to this busy sphere,
Where some I meet perchance may pause and ask,
What is my name, my purpose, or my task? (¶ 1)

My name is Liberator! I propose
To hurl my shafts at freedom’s deadliest foes!
My task is hard—for I am charged to save
Man from his brother!—to redeem the slave! (¶ 2)

Ye who may hear, and yet condemn my cause,
Say, shall the best of Nature’s holy laws
Be trodden down? and shall her open veins
Flow but for cement to her offspring’s chains? (¶ 3)

Art thou a parent? shall thy children be
Rent from thy breast, like branches from the tree,
And doom’d to servitude, in helplessness
On other shores, and thou ask no redress? (¶ 4)

Thou, in whose bosom glows the sacred flame
Of filial love, say, if the tyrant came,
To force thy parent shrieking from thy sight,
Would thy heart bleed—because thy face is white? (¶ 5)

Art thou a brother? shall thy sister twine
Her feeble arm in agony on thine,
And thou not lift the heel, nor aim the blow,
At him who bears her off to life-long wo? (¶ 6)

Art thou a sister? will no desp’rate cry
Awake thy sleeping brother, while thine eye
Beholds the fetters locking on the limb
Stretched out in rest, which hence, must end, for him? (¶ 7)

Art thou a lover?—no! nought e’er was found
In lover’s breast, save cords of love, that bound
Man to his kind! then, thy profession save!
Forswear affection or release thy slave! (¶ 8)

Thou who art kneeling at thy Maker’s shrine,
Ask if Heaven takes such offerings as thine!
If in thy bonds the son of Afric sighs,
Far higher than thy prayer his groans will rise! (¶ 9)

God is a God of mercy, and would see
The prison doors unbarr’d—the bondmen free!
He is a God of truth, with purer eyes
Than to behold the oppresor’s sacrifice! (¶ 10)

Avarice, thy cry and thine insatiable thirst
Make men consent to see his brother cursed!
Tears, sweat and blood thou drinks’t, but, in their turn,
They shall cry more! while vengeance bids them burn. (¶ 11)

The Lord hath said it!—who shall him gainsay?
He says, the wicked they shall go away,——
Who are the wicked?——Contradict who can,
They are the oppressors of their fellow man! (¶ 12)

Aid me, New England! ’tis my hope in you
Which gives me strength my purpose to pursue!
Do you not hear your sister States resound
With Afric’s sights to have her sons unbound? (¶ 13)