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

Sarah Louisa Forten, "The Grave of the Slave" (1831)

               THE GRAVE OF THE SLAVE.

The cold storms of winter shall chill him no more,
His woes and his sorrows, his pains are all o'er;
The sod of the valley now covers his form,
He is safe in his last home, he feels not the storm.

The poor slave is laid all unheeded and lone,
Where the rich and the poor find a permanent home;
Not his master can rouse him with voice of command;
He knows not and hears not his cruel demand;

Not a tear, nor a sigh to embalm his cold tomb,
No friend to lament him, no child to bemoan;
Not a stone marks the place where he peacefully lies,
The earth for the pillow, his curtain the skies.

Poor slave, shall we sorrow that death was thy friend,
The last and the kindest that heaven could send?
The grave of the weary is welcomed and blest;
And death to the captive is freedom and rest.

First published in The Liberator, 1831
Also published in Gertrude Mossell's The Work of the Afro-American Woman, 1894

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