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A True BalladEdit

A glorious land is this of ours,
A land of liberty!
Through all the wide earth's bounds you ‘ll find
None else so truly free!

Go north or south, or east or west,
Wherever you may roam,
There's not a land like this of ours,
The stranger's refuge home!

And yet methinks it were but well,
The tale might not be told,
That where our banner proudliest floats,
Are human sinews sold.

And when we boast that o'er our soil
No tyrants footstep treads,
'T were well if we could hide the blood,
The red scourge daily sheds.

Yet still is ours a glorious land!
Our shouts rise wild and high—
I would such tales as I have heard,
Might give them not the lie.

It was a mournful mother, sat
Within the prison walls;
And bitterly adown her cheek
The scalding tear-drop falls.

She sat within the prison walls,
Amidst her infants three;
The bars were strong, the bolts well drawn,
She might not hope to flee.

And still the tears fell down her cheek,
And when a footstep came,
A shudder of convulsive fear
Went o'er her quivering frame.

It was not for the dungeon's chill,
Nor for the gloom it wore,
Nor that the pangs of conscious guilt
Her frighted bosom tore.—

For though in prison cell she lay,
In freedom's happy clime,
Her hand was innocent of wrong,
They charged her not with crime;

T was that she wore a dusky brow,
She lay within that hold,
Until her human limbs and heart
Were chaffer'd off for gold.

Sold with her babes—all, one by one,
Forever torn apart—
And not one faint hope left to cling
Around her broken heart.

Yet still is ours a glorious land!
Raise paeans loud and high,
To that which fills all patriot breasts,
Our country's liberty.

Her husband was a freeman good,
He lived in Maryland;
Where now in bootless grief he wept
His broken marriage band.

He loved her when they both were young
And though she was a slave,
He wedded her, and with his hand,
Changeless affection gave.

And when their prattling infants smiled,
Upon his cottage floor,
For them and her, with cheerful heart,
His daily toil he bore.

But woe for him, and woe for her!
Her children all were slaves;
Less grief their parents’ hearts had borne,
To weep above their graves.

For still as one by one they grew
To childhood's franksome years,
They one by one were torn away
To bondage and to tears.—

Torn far away to distant scenes,
Like green leaves from their stem;
And never to their home, bereaved,
Came tidings more of them.

Now all were wrench'd apart—there was
No deeper grief to bear;
And they might calmly sit them down
In agonized despair.

For though our land is proudly free,
All other lands above,
There's none may dare to knit again,
Those sacred cords of love.


This work was published before January 1, 1924, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.