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

Frank B. Coffin, "Harriet Beecher Stowe's Works (Uncle Tom's Cabin" (1897)

Harriet Beecher Stowe's Works. 
 "Uncle Tom's Cabin." 
 That grand and noble woman dear, 
 Called Harriet Beecher Stowe, 
 The book she wrote without a fear 
 Drove slavery from our shore. 
 To know her works, to feel her worth, 
 Go read that noble book 
 And see what dauntless words she wrote, 
 What fearful risks she took. 
 It struck a blow to slavery's tree, 
 That burned its very life; 
 It scorched the undergrowth around, 
 And left it in a strife ; 
 It parched the branches to a crisp, 
 Withered the leaves in twain, 
 It drove the sap into the ground 
 To never rise again. 
 Dark slavery rested on the base, 
 That Africans were brutes, 
 That they should be a white man's slave 
 Or dwell in destitute ; 
 It said his sensibility 
 Was not of human kind, 
 And if he loved, ''twas not the love 
 Which with the heart combines.
 And hence the children could be sold, 
 Husband and wife untied, 
 And with a mind all full of glee, 
 In distant parts abide ; 
 No matter what the master did 
 To slaves w r ho were akin, 
 'Twas just the same as with a mule, 
 The master didn't sin. 
 These doctrines were supported by 
 Religion, law and science, 
 The preacher who preached otherwise, 
 Was held up in defiance; 
 The surgeon taught that Negro flesh 
 Under the whip and knife, 
 Was not affected like white men, 
 Hence 'twas not human strife. 
 Politicians said that it was 
 Fixed as the lasting hills, 
 And God considered it as pure 
 As nature's rippling rills ; 
 The statesman, judge and governor 
 Said that it was a rule,
 The Negro slave should have the same 
 As oxen, horse and mule.
 Men divine, wrote book upon book, 
 Forcing restitution, 
 And tried to prove that slavery was 
 A God sent institution. 
 To speak, to write, to think against 
 This inhumanity, 
 Was nothing but a case of what 
 Was called insanity. 
 It was at such a time as this 
 That Harriet Beecher Stowe, 
 Called "Uncle Tom" upon the scene, 
 And made him walk before 
 The gaze of all the countries 'round, 
 She made him speak and cry, 
 In twenty different languages 
 She made him pray and sigh. 
 She then asked all the world who heard 
 His wild distressing prayer, 
 If 'twas not likely that a heart 
 Humane is stationed there; 
 She brought forth George and showed his grand 
 Affections for his wife, 
 His love for liberty, and how 
 He fought the slavish strife.
 She brought Haley, the Negro trader, 
 Who had no human heart, 
 Who stole the virtue of his slaves, 
 And then the lash impart; 
 Who took a newly wedded wife 
 Before her husband's gaze, 
 Could the devil have seen all this, 
 He would have stood amazed. 
 She then showed forth the Christian heart 
 Of Mister Shelby's wife, 
 Who sympathized with all the slaves 
 In their discouraged strife ; 
 Who wept when she first heard the news 
 From her dear husband bold, 
 When she asked where was Uncle Tom, 
 He said "the brute is sold." 
 These things and hundreds, thousands more,  
 This noble book had shown, 
 And there stood Harriet Beecher Stowe, 
 Between pulpit and throne; 
 She stood nearer the Throne of God, 
 Than all false priests before, 
 And turned the search light on to show 
 The heartache and the woe.

 She wrote brave words and spead them, 
 Upon the human breeze, 
 That made pro-slav'ry clergymen, 
 Draw in their breath and sneeze; 
 Her shafts were sent hilt deep into 
 The tender, human heart, 
 Just like the shepherd boy who smote 
 The giant with his dart. 
 This book had made the world grow mad, 
 With slavery and its crime, 
 Before the bloody battlefield, 
 With marching tread did chime; 
 Before John Brown had died to save, 
 Before great Lincoln's call, 
 Before brave Sherman reached the sea, 
 Before Grant captured all. 
 She called from out its slumb'ring tomb, 
 Affections of the soul, 
 She armed them with eternal light, 
 And sent them forth so bold 
 Against the greed, the gain, the lust, 
 That these two forces fought, 
 Like Wolfe and Montcalm on the plain, 
 Till right had error wrought.

Published in Coffin's Poems with Ajax' Ordeal (1897)

This page has tags: