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

Poems on Slavery

The Warning

BEWARE! The Israelite of old, who tore

The lion in his path,—when, poor and blind,

He saw the blessed light of heaven no more,

Shorn of his noble strength and forced to grind

In prison, and at last led forth to be

A pander to Philistine revelry,—

Upon the pillars of the temple laid

His desperate hands, and in its overthrow

Destroyed himself, and with him those who made

A cruel mockery of his sightless woe;

The poor, blind Slave, the scoff and jest of all,

Expired, and thousands perished in the fall!

There is a poor, blind Samson in this land,

Shorn of his strength and bound in bonds of steel,

Who may, in some grim revel, raise his hand,

And shake the pillars of this Commonweal,

Till the vast Temple of our liberties

A shapeless mass of wreck and rubbish lies.