At Port Royal
The tent-lights glimmer on the land,
by John Greenleaf Whittier
The ship-lights on the sea;
The night-wind smooths with drifting sand
Our track on lone Tybee.
At last our grating keels outslide,
Our good boats forward swing;
And while we ride the land-locked tide,
Our negroes row and sing.
For dear the bondman holds his gifts
Of music and of song:
The gold that kindly Nature sifts
Among his sands of wrong;
The power to make his toiling days
And poor home-comforts please;
The quaint relief of mirth that plays
With sorrow's minor keys.
Another glow than sunset's fire
Has filled the West with light,
Where field and garner, barn and byre,
Are blazing through the night.
The land is wild with fear and hate,
The rout runs mad and fast;
From hand to hand, from gate to gate,
The flaming brand is passed.
The lurid glow falls strong across
Dark faces broad with smiles;
Not theirs the terror, hate, and loss
That fire yon blazing piles.
With oar-strokes timing to their song,
They weave in simple lays
The pathos of remembered wrong,
The hope of better days,—
The triumph-note that Miriam sung,
The joy of uncaged birds:
Softening with Afric's mellow tongue
Their broken Saxon words.