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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Richard Henry Horne 1802–84

The Slave



BEFORE us in the sultry dawn arose

Indigo-tinted mountains; and ere noon

We near’d an isle that lay like a festoon,

And shar’d the ocean’s glittering repose.

We saw plantations spotted with white huts;

Estates midst orange groves and towering trees;

Rich yellow lawns embrown’d by soft degrees;

Plots of intense gold freak’d with shady nuts.

A dead hot silence tranced sea, land, and sky:

And now a long canoe came gliding forth,

Wherein there sat an old man fierce and swarth

Tiger-faced, black-fang’d, and with jaundiced eye.

Pure white, with pale blue chequer’d, and red fold

Of head-cloth ’neath straw brim, this Master wore;

While in the sun-glare stood with high-rais’d oar

A naked Image all of burnish’d gold.

Golden his bones—high-valued in the mart,

His minted muscles, and his glossy skin;

Golden his life of action—but within

The slave is human in a bleeding heart.