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Astraea at the Capitol.

Abolition of Slavery in the District of Columbia, 1862.

when first I saw our banner wave
     Above the nation's council-hall,
I heard beneath its marble wall
     The clanking fetters of the slave!

In the foul market-place I stood,
     And saw the Christian mother sold,
And childhood with its locks of gold,
     Blue-eyed and fair with Saxon blood.

I shut my eyes, I held my breath,
     And, smothering down the wrath and shame
That set my Northern blood aflame,
     Stood silent,—where to speak was death.

Beside me gloomed the prison-cell
     Where wasted one in slow decline
For uttering simple words of mine,
     And loving freedom all too well.

The flag that floated from the dome
     Flapped menace in the morning air;
I stood a perilled stranger where
     The human broker made his home.

For crime was virtue: Gown and Sword
     And Law their threefold sanction gave,
And to the quarry of the slave
     Went hawking with our symbol-bird.

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