The Witnesses

Original Text: 
The Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, with Bibliographical and Critical Notes, Riverside Edition (Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin, 1890), I, 93-94. PS 2250 E90 Robarts Library.
1In Ocean's wide domains,
2    Half buried in the sands,
3Lie skeletons in chains,
4    With shackled feet and hands.
5Beyond the fall of dews,
6    Deeper than plummet lies,
7Float ships, with all their crews,
8    No more to sink nor rise.
9There the black Slave-ship swims,
10    Freighted with human forms,
11Whose fettered, fleshless limbs
12    Are not the sport of storms.
13These are the bones of Slaves;
14    They gleam from the abyss;
15They cry, from yawning waves,
16    "We are the Witnesses!"
17Within Earth's wide domains
18    Are markets for men's lives;
19Their necks are galled with chains,
20    Their wrists are cramped with gyves.
21Dead bodies, that the kite
22    In deserts makes its prey;
23Murders, that with affright
24    Scare school-boys from their play!
25All evil thoughts and deeds;
26    Anger, and lust, and pride;
27The foulest, rankest weeds,
28    That choke Life's groaning tide!
29These are the woes of Slaves;
30    They glare from the abyss;
31They cry, from unknown graves,
32    "We are the Witnesses!"
Publication Start Year: 
Publication Notes: 
In Poems on Slavery
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.