Watching Ships Go Free

With work at bay

On Sabbath day

I roam the shores

Of Chesapeake.

I dream a time

Of rest sublime

So different I

Can barely speak.

And ships visit

And ships exit

And ply the Main

Where’er they will.

While I must sweat

And toil and fret

A chattel and

A sad slave still.

It haunts the soul

As billows roll

And ebb and flow

Near Baltimore.

They whisper dreams

And freedom’s schemes

I’ve only read

At night before.

And reading brings

A hope that sings

A life that could

Be mine to dare.

With purpose new

A wife’s love too

And labour clean

And good, somewhere.

To make the break

For Frederick’s sake,

Once fatherless

And “good for naught”.

I first must plan

And play the man

And thrill at freedom’s

Slightest thought.

(This reflection stands as one of the most poignant images in the autobiography of Frederick Douglass, abolitionist. Champion of Afro-Americans.)

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