Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

(24 September 1825 – 22 February 1911 / Baltimore, Maryland)

Bury Me In A Free Land - Poem by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Make me a grave where'er you will,
In a lowly plain, or a lofty hill;
Make it among earth's humblest graves,
But not in a land where men are slaves.

I could not rest if around my grave
I heard the steps of a trembling slave;
His shadow above my silent tomb
Would make it a place of fearful gloom.

I could not rest if I heard the tread
Of a coffle gang to the shambles led,
And the mother's shriek of wild despair
Rise like a curse on the trembling air.

I could not sleep if I saw the lash
Drinking her blood at each fearful gash,
And I saw her babes torn from her breast,
Like trembling doves from their parent nest.

I'd shudder and start if I heard the bay
Of bloodhounds seizing their human prey,
And I heard the captive plead in vain
As they bound afresh his galling chain.

If I saw young girls from their mother's arms
Bartered and sold for their youthful charms,
My eye would flash with a mournful flame,
My death-paled cheek grow red with shame.

I would sleep, dear friends, where bloated might
Can rob no man of his dearest right;
My rest shall be calm in any grave
Where none can call his brother a slave.

I ask no monument, proud and high,
To arrest the gaze of the passers-by;
All that my yearning spirit craves,
Is bury me not in a land of slaves.

Comments about Bury Me In A Free Land by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

  • Susan Williams (6/23/2017 4:29:00 PM)

    This staggered me with its strength, its love, its principles- -this woman is so impactful.... this is the best poem I have read in months! I must read more of her poetry.. (Report) Reply

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  • (11/2/2015 8:17:00 PM)

    Wow. I wish that I had been given the honor of reading this poem earlier in my life. How beautifully and painfully she describes the unimaginable hardships of slavery. With such a simplicity and without feeling remorse for wanting out of that world, the author portrays her only wish. (Report) Reply

  • Jerome Chukwuemeka (11/2/2015 5:44:00 PM)

    One of the finest poem ever written!
    So, emotional and humbly demanding a right that's in the first place free for all.
    (Report) Reply

  • Susan Williams (11/2/2015 1:41:00 PM)

    Uncle Tom's Cabin set to verse. The emotional draw is rightly choreographed by the harshest ugliest aspects of slavery. (Report) Reply

  • Edward Kofi Louis (11/2/2015 12:48:00 PM)

    Burial! A place of rest. But, peace comes from the place of love. Nice work. (Report) Reply

  • Maria Sharon Moemise (11/2/2015 7:21:00 AM)

    Absolutely wonderous! The message is simple, clear yet powerful. (Report) Reply

  • (11/2/2015 4:20:00 AM)

    I ask no monument, proud and high,
    To arrest the gaze of the passers by;
    All that my yearning spirit craves,
    Is bury me not in a land of slaves.
    Great desire expressed by a great humanist soul. Worth saluting. Thanks for sharing.10++++
    (Report) Reply

  • Bakuli Bhakali (11/2/2015 3:40:00 AM)

    I read many poems about slaves and slavery... a taboo on human society...
    resting in a Freeland is the ultimate desire one can have!
    (Report) Reply

  • Anil Kumar Panda (11/2/2015 3:38:00 AM)

    A poem with a powerful message. Very nice. (Report) Reply

  • Mohammed Asim Nehal (11/2/2015 2:57:00 AM)

    A thoughtful poem, touched the bases of cruel society and its discriminating ways....Loved it, Madam. (Report) Reply

  • Seema Jayaraman (11/2/2015 1:26:00 AM)

    Superb poem speaking against the cruelty of slavery.. a re-emergence in the form of human and child trafficking syndicated crime seen in recent years where the mighty prey on poverty and the helpless and hapless.. thank god slavery was abolished.. i would shudder like the poetess if i were ever to witness the snatching of a baby from his or her mother's breast in the name of bonded slavery.. readers of this poem, I invite your attention and review comments to a recent write of mine against human trafficking All Trussed Up- Ready For Delivery. thanks (Report) Reply

  • (11/2/2015 1:16:00 AM)

    Freedom is an awesome and powerful thing, and when laid down next to cruelty and bondage, is like an open wound, festering to the soul. (Report) Reply

  • (11/2/2015 1:15:00 AM)

    Freedom is an awesome and powerful thing, and when laid next to cruelty and bondage; it's ugliness is like an open wound to the soul. (Report) Reply

  • (6/3/2014 6:39:00 PM)

    .....oh this is a wonderful poem.... and so sad any man was ever a slave to another man.... (Report) Reply

  • (10/11/2008 8:26:00 AM)

    beautiful! ! ....... (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: mother, sleep, brother, despair, red, death, rose, friend, girl

Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003

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