previous next
[8] I will have never a noble,
     No lineage counted great;
Fishers and choppers and ploughmen
     Shall constitute a State.

To-day unbind the captive,
     So only are ye unbound:
Lift up a people from the dust,
     Trump of their freedom, sound!

Pay ransom to the owner,
     And fill the bag to the brim:
Who is the owner? The slave is owner,
     And ever was. Pay him.

That poem was not written for a few cultivated people only. I heard it read to an armed regiment of freed slaves, standing silent with dusky faces, with the solemn arches of the live oaks above them, each tree draped with long festoons of gray moss across its hundred feet of shade. And never reader had an audience more serious, more thoughtful. The words which to others are literature, to them were life.

And all of that early transcendental school which did so much to emancipate and nationalize American literature, did it by recognizing this same fact. From the depth of their so-called idealism they recognized the infinite value of

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: