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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ed. Poems of Places: An Anthology in 31 Volumes.
America: Vols. XXV–XXIX. 1876–79.

Southern States: Beaufort, S. C.

The Fisherman of Beaufort

By Frances D. Gage (1808–1884)

THE TIDE comes up, and the tide goes down,

And still the fisherman’s boat,

At early dawn and at evening shade,

Is ever and ever afloat:

His net goes down, and his net comes up,

And we hear his song of glee;

“De fishes dey hates de ole slave nets,

But comes to de nets ob de free.”

The tide comes up, and the tide goes down,

And the oysterman below

Is picking away, in the slimy sands,

In the sands “ob de long ago.”

But now if an empty hand he bears,

He shudders no more with fear;

There ’s no stretching-board for the aching bones,

And no lash of the overseer.

The tide comes up, and the tide goes down,

And ever I hear a song,

As the moaning winds through the moss-hung oaks

Sweep surging ever along.

“O massa white man! help de slave,

And de wife and chillen too;

Eber dey ’ll work, wid de hard worn hand,

Ef ell gib ’em de work to do.”

The tide comes up, and the tide goes down,

But it bides no tyrant’s word,

As it chants unceasing the anthem grand

Of its Freedom to the Lord.

The fisherman floating on its breast

Has caught up the keynote true:

“De sea works, massa, for ’t sef and God,

And so must de brack man too.

“Den gib him de work, and gib him de pay,

For de chillen an’ wife him love,

And de yam shall grow, and de cotton shall blow,

And him nebber, nebber rove;

For him love de ole Carlina State,

And de ole magnolia tree;

Oh, nebber him trouble de icy Norf,

Ef de brack folks am go free.”