Poems On The Slave Trade - Sonnet V

Did then the bold Slave rear at last the Sword
Of Vengeance? drench'd he deep its thirsty blade
In the cold bosom of his tyrant lord?
Oh! who shall blame him? thro' the midnight shade
Still o'er his tortur'd memory rush'd the thought
Of every past delight; his native grove,
Friendship's best joys, and Liberty and Love,
All lost for ever! then Remembrance wrought
His soul to madness; round his restless bed
Freedom's pale spectre stalk'd, with a stern smile
Pointing the wounds of slavery, the while
She shook her chains and hung her sullen head:
No more on Heaven he calls with fruitless breath,
But sweetens with revenge, the draught of death.

by Robert Southey

Comments (3)

I had the great pleasure of meeting Michael Ondaatje after a reading of his works, both novels and poetry. I shared with him that I am a teacher and have used his poetry with my high school students. 'To A Sad Daughter' is a wonderful example of how man forms stereotypes, and the wise among us refuse to accept them. This adventure with Ondaatje made me a groupie of his forever... His prose, too, is poetry!
I have read most of your novels and they are great. This poetry is great. It hit home for me. It's ironic for a teacher like me to have struggles with my daughter in terms of her schooling and yet I had and have so many students who admire what I do for them in my class. Jona
Michael, I never had a daughter, just 5 sons. But when I read your poem, 'To a Sad Daughter', I felt as if she was my own daughter, the one I never had, It was like sitting on a veranda having a cool drink with you and talking about our daughters. Your poem went straight to my heart. I once wrote one to honor my daughters-in-law, but I would now call that one superficial compared to yours. Keep trying to see the Divine Light as it inspires you to keep writing. Willem