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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–1882). Complete Poetical Works. 1893.

Poems on Slavery

The Slave Singing at Midnight

LOUD he sang the psalm of David!

He, a Negro and enslavèd,

Sang of Israel’s victory,

Sang of Zion, bright and free.

In that hour, when night is calmest,

Sang he from the Hebrew Psalmist,

In a voice so sweet and clear

That I could not choose but hear,

Songs of triumph, and ascriptions,

Such as reached the swart Egyptians,

When upon the Red Sea coast

Perished Pharaoh and his host.

And the voice of his devotion

Filled my soul with strange emotion;

For its tones by turns were glad,

Sweetly solemn, wildly sad.

Paul and Silas, in their prison,

Sang of Christ, the Lord arisen.

And an earthquake’s arm of might

Broke their dungeon-gates at night.

But, alas! what holy angel

Brings the Slave this glad evangel?

And what earthquake’s arm of might

Breaks his dungeon-gates at night?