James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

April 27

To Toussaint l’Ouverture

By William Wordsworth (1770–1850)

  • Toussaint l’Ouverture was a Haitian slave and revolutionist. During the troubles in Hayti in 1791 he took a prominent part in affairs, and after a varied career he became undisputed master of the island. He was finally subdued by a force sent by Napoleon, and taken to France, where he died in imprisonment a year later, on April 27, 1803.

  • TOUSSAINT, the most unhappy man of men!

    Whether the whistling rustic tend his plough

    Within thy hearing, or thy head be now

    Pillowed in some deep dungeon’s earless den—

    O miserable chieftain! where and when

    Wilt thou find patience? Yet die not; do thou

    Wear rather in thy bonds a cheerful brow.

    Though fallen thyself, never to rise again,

    Live and take comfort. Thou hast left behind

    Powers that will work for thee—air, earth, and skies.

    There’s not a breathing of the common wind

    That will forget thee. Thou hast great allies;

    Thy friends are exultations, agonies,

    And love, and man’s unconquerable mind.