I was born as free as the silvery light That laughs in a Southern fountain; Free as the sea-fed bird that nests On a Scandinavian mountain, Free as the wind that mocks at the sway And pinioning clasp of another, Yet in the slave they scourged to-day I saw and knew—my brother! Vested in purple I sat apart, But the cord that smote him bruised me; I closed my ears, but the sob that broke From his savage breast accused me; No phrase of reasoning judgement just The plaint of my soul could smother, A creature vile, abased to the dust, I knew him still—my brother. And the autumn day that had smiled so fair Seemed suddenly overclouded; A gloom, more dreadful than Nature owns, My human mind enshrouded; I thought of the power benign that made And bound men one to the other, And I felt in my brother's fear afraid, And ashamed in the shame of my brother.
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