Frances Ellen Watkins Harper and Black History Month

It’s black history month. Here is a poem by a black abolitionist about black women losing their children because they were sold off.

The Slave Mother
By Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Heard you that shriek? It rose
So wildly on the air,
It seem’d as if a burden’d heart
Was breaking in despair.

Saw you those hands so sadly clasped—
The bowed and feeble head—
The shuddering of that fragile form—
That look of grief and dread?

Saw you the sad, imploring eye?
Its every glance was pain,
As if a storm of agony
Were sweeping through the brain.

She is a mother pale with fear,
Her boy clings to her side,
And in her kyrtle vainly tries
His trembling form to hide.

He is not hers, although she bore
For him a mother’s pains;
He is not hers, although her blood
Is coursing through his veins!

He is not hers, for cruel hands
May rudely tear apart
The only wreath of household love
That binds her breaking heart.

His love has been a joyous light
That o’er her pathway smiled,
A fountain gushing ever new,
Amid life’s desert wild.

His lightest word has been a tone
Of music round her heart,
Their lives a streamlet blent in one—
Oh, Father! must they part?

They tear him from her circling arms,
Her last and fond embrace.
Oh! never more may her sad eyes
Gaze on his mournful face.

No marvel, then, these bitter shrieks
Disturb the listening air:
She is a mother, and her heart
Is breaking in despair.


Author: Michael Hoyt

Worked as a conductor on the Railroad until 1988, worked as a machinist until 2007 and then retired. Earned a creative writing certificate from Rio Salado Community College in 2014. Became concerned when GW Bush was elected, even more, concerned when Republicans began trying to block everything Obama tried to do and now totally p**sed off at what trump and the Republicans are trying to do to our country. I started my own blog in 2009 and now write for The Blue Route.

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