Lynching

Original Text: 
Lizelia Augusta Jenkins Moorer, Prejudice Unveiled and Other Poems (Boston: Roxburgh, 1907), pp. 31-35. Facsimile edition in Collected Black Women's Poetry, vol. 3, ed. Joan R. Sherman (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), pp. 31-35. PS591 N4C57 1988 v. 3 c. 1 Robarts Library.
1Have you ever heard of lynching in the great United States?
2'Tis an awful, awful story that the Negro man relates,
3How the mobs the laws have trampled, both the human and divine,
4In their killing helpless people as their cruel hearts incline.
5Not the heathen! 'Tis the Christian with the Bible in his hand,
6Stands for pain and death to tyrannize the weaklings of the land;
7Not the red man nor the Spaniard kills the blacks of Uncle Sam,
9To a limb upon the highway does a Negro's body hang,
10Riddled with a hundred bullets from the bloody, thirsty gang;
11Law and order thus defying, and there's none to say them nay.
12"Thus," they say, to keep their power, "Negroes must be kept at bay."
13How his back is lacerated! how the scene is painted red,
14By the blood of one poor Negro till he numbers with the dead!
15Listen to the cry of anguish from a soul that God has made,
16But it fails to reach the pity of the demons in the raid.
17To a tree we find the Negro and to him a chain beside,
18There a horse to it is fastened and the whip to him applied.
19Thus he pulls the victim's body till it meets a dying fate,
20And to history is given a new scandal to relate.
21Limb from limb he's torn asunder! See the savage lynchers grin!
22Then the flesh is cut in pieces and the souvenirs begin;
23Each must have the piece allotted for the friends at home to see,
24Relatives will cluster round him, laughing, dancing, filled with glee.
25To a stake they bind the Negro, pile the trash around him high,
26Make the fire about his body; it is thus that he must die.
27Burn him slowly, hear the lynchers: "That's the part we most enjoy!
28Tell it out in all the nation how we killed a Negro boy!"
29Savage mob a Negro's chasing, and to catch him must not fail;
30If it does, another's taken, there to force from him the tale
31Where the fleeing man is hiding; if the facts he cannot raise,
32Though his innocence protesting, for the same by death he pays.
33"'Tis a Negro's blood we're craving; such will have at any cost;
34We must lynch the one in keeping, for the other one is lost!"
35This they say, and when they're questioned answer like this is the why,
36"To the race at large a warning here a Negro man shall die!"
37O, how brave the Southern white man when, a hundred men to one,
38Lynch a lone, defenceless Negro, when each lyncher has a gun.
39If at midnight or the noonday, the result is all the same,
40Law is powerless to hinder, and the nation shares the blame.
41Lynchers go into the Senate and their savagery uphold,
42How they shoot and butcher Negroes is the story that is told.
43Guns and ropes they have in plenty, and, if necessary, will
44Use them on an office holder, such a Negro they must kill.
45How they clamor for the Philippines and Cubans far away,
46While a worse thing is transpiring in this country every day.
47In the eyes of such law-breakers lives a beam of greatest size,
48That will hinder all the pulling of the mote from others' eyes.
49Are the candidates for lynching always found among the men?
50No, the fiends of human torture lynch a woman now and then.
51Yea, the Spanish Inquisition insignificant will pale,
52When compared with such atrocities that in the South prevail!
53'Tis a blot on Christian manhood time, itself, cannot erase;
54Human blood upon the conscience centuries cannot efface.
55Simply to suspect a Negro is sufficient for the band,
56He must die without a hearing, in a boasted gospel land.
57Sowing antedates the reaping, and the nation should beware,
58That the sowers to the wind will reap the whirlwind everywhere.
59Hark the cry! the blood of Negroes cries for vengeance from the dust!
60How I tremble for the nation when I think that God is just!

Notes

8] Ham: a son of Noah, from whom descended the Egyptians, the Nubians, and the Canaanties. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1907
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.
Rhyme: