African American Poetry (1870-1928): A Digital Anthology

Eloise A. Bibb, "Eliza In Uncle Tom's Cabin)" (1895)


See! The moon is smiling
Down her brightest beams,
And the leaflets sleeping,
Whisper in their dreams,
Hear the merry music,
And the darkies' lays,
Hear the happy voices
Joining in the plays.

There in old Kentucky,
On a summer's night,
Stands a quadroon maiden,
Clothed in robes of white;
On her raven ringlets,
Orange blossoms sleep,
O'er her slender figure,
Bridal vestments sweep.

There we see her mistress,
Smiling now with pride,
On her handsome favorite,
Whom she sees a bride.
There is much rejoicing
O'er Eliza's match;
Misses Shelby fancies
George is a good "catch."

So the banjo's sounding,
And the darkies sing,
Hear them gayly dancing,
To the fiddle's ring.
But the dawn is breaking,
Guests must now disperse;
Quick the bow is silent,
Ere the sunlight bursts.


The moon now shines upon a scene,
Much different from the one we left:
A mother gazes on her babe,
A mother feeling richly blest.

A smile of pride plays on her face,
A light of love shines in her eye.
She moves one black curl from its place,
And kisses it with many a sigh.

Ah! a mother's love is great,
E'en a slave could love and hate.
Swift the mother's blood ran cold,
When she knew her boy was sold.


Haste thee, mother, pluck thy flower,
From the bed thou lov'st so well;
Plant it in a soil congenial,--
Quick! Or they'll thy flower sell.
How that mother tore her tresses,
When she learned they sold her bud;
Neither sigh nor tear escaped her,
Only her poor heart dropt blood.

"I will save thee, I'll rescue thee!"
Cried the mother with new life,
"Though my life's blood perish for it,
You'll be free from all this strife."
Close she wrapped her life, her treasure,
Quick she steals out in the night,
All things dear she bids farewell to,
Then she disappears from sight.

"Farewell! farewell!" Eliza cried,
"Old home, I loved so well;
Farewell! dear trees and shady groves,
I'll miss your magic spell.
Neath shrubs like these oft have I played,
These groves have sheltered me,
Just such a night my heart was won,
Beneath that old beech tree."

With hurrying feet, she quickly sped
Across the frosty ground:
Her fears were roused with awful dread,
At every quaking sound.
At length she neared the river's side,
Her blood turned cold with fright;
Those huge green blocks of floating ice
Will land not boat to-night.

She heard a voice--the voice of Sam,
And saw Haley, the man
Who bought her child, her all and all,
She clasped her boy and ran.
The trader watched her disappear
Far down the river's bank,
And when he saw her desperate leap,
All hope within him sank.

She vaulted o'er the current swift,
The ice now creaked beneath;
She leaps, she slips, she stands again,
Upon the river's reef.
Her shoes are gone, her feet are cut,
The water's dyed with blood,
With mad'ning shrieks she stumbled on,
Forgetful of the flood.

She sees a man, as in a dream,
Upon the other side;
She hears a voice--her heart is still,
"O, aid me, sir!" she cried:
"O, hide me quick, they've sold my boy,--
This child I'd die to save."
"Go thar," he said, "to them kind folks,
They'd save you from the grave."


Eliza slept and dreamed of peace,
Of lands where all is rest;
Of bright, green shores where sorrows cease,
Of homes which God had blest.

She dreamed her child was happy there,
A free and merry boy;
She felt that God had heard her prayer,
And filled her life with joy.

She heard a step, she felt a tear
Upon her forehead fall;
She knew that he she loved was near,--
Her husband and her all.


Farewell! Farewell! Our time is spent.
We leave thee now in peace;
At last thou'rt free and highly blest,
May heaven thy joys increase.

Thy dear ones all around thee now,
Are bent in tearful prayer;
Their grateful words ascend to Him
Who brought them safely, there.

But we to-day lift up our hearts,
And kneel in prayer with thee;
We bless the God who broke the chain,
And set thy people free.

Published in Eloise A. Bibb's Poems, 1895

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