John Greenleaf Whittier

(17 December 1807 – 7 September 1892 / Haverhill, Massachusetts)

The Farewell of a Virginia Slave Mother


Of A Virginia Slave Mother To Her Daughters Sold Into Southern Bondage


Gone, gone, - sold and gone
To the rice-swamp dank and lone.
Where the slave-whip ceaseless swings
Where the noisome insect stings
Where the fever demon strews
Poison with the falling dews
Where the sickly sunbeams glare
Through the hot and misty air;
Gone, gone, - sold and gone,
To the rice-swamp dank and lone,
From Virginia's hills and waters;
Woe is me, my stolen daughters!

Gone, gone, - sold and gone
To the rice-swamp dank and lone
There no mother's eye is near them,
There no mother's ear can hear them;
Never, when the torturing lash
Seams their back with many a gash
Shall a mother's kindness bless them
Or a mother's arms caress them.
Gone, gone, - sold and gone,
To the rice-swamp dank and lone,
From Virginia's hills and waters;
Woe is me, my stolen daughters!

Gone, gone, - sold and gone,
To the rice-swamp dank and lone,
Oh, when weary, sad, and slow,
From the fields at night they go
Faint with toil, and racked with pain
To their cheerless homes again,
There no brother's voice shall greet them
There no father's welcome meet them.
Gone, gone, - sold and gone,
To the rice-swamp dank and lone,
From Virginia's hills and waters;
Woe is me, my stolen daughters!

Gone, gone, - sold and gone,
To the rice-swamp dank and lone
From the tree whose shadow lay
On their childhood's place of play;
From the cool spring where they drank;
Rock, and hill, and rivulet bank;
From the solemn house of prayer,
And the holy counsels there;
Gone, gone, - sold and gone,
To the rice-swamp dank and lone,
From Virginia's hills and waters;
Woe is me, my stolen daughters!

Gone, gone, - sold and gone,
To the rice-swamp dank and lone;
Toiling through the weary day,
And at night the spoiler's prey.
Oh, that they had earlier died,
Sleeping calmly, side by side,
Where the tyrant's power is o'er
And the fetter galls no more!
Gone, gone, - sold and gone,
To the rice-swamp dank and lone;
From Virginia's hills and waters
Woe is me, my stolen daughters!

Gone, gone, - sold and gone,
To the rice-swamp dank and lone;
By the holy love He beareth;
By the bruised reed He spareth;
Oh, may He, to whom alone
All their cruel wrongs are known,
Still their hope and refuge prove,
With a more than mother's love.
Gone, gone, - sold and gone,
To the rice-swamp dank and lone,
From Virginia's hills and waters;
Woe is me, my stolen daughters!

Submitted: Tuesday, April 06, 2010

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