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Slave Song

Language: English

Go on, go on, oh ships!
You are loosed from your moorings...[you] are free; [and] I am fast in my
chains...a slave! You move merrily before the gentle gale, and I sadly 
before the bloody whip! You are freedom's swift-winged angels, that fly 
[a]round the world; I am confined in bands of iron! O that I were free! 
O, that I were on one of your gallant decks...under your protecting wing!

Go on, go on, oh ships!

...Why was I born a make a brute! Why am I a slave? O God, save me...
deliver me! Let me be free! [I shall not live and die as a slave.] 
I will not stand it. Get caught, or get clear, I'll try it...I had [rather get]...
killed running as die standing.

Go on, go on, oh ships!

...Only think of it; one hundred miles straight north, and I am free!...
I will take to the water. I will...walk straight through Delaware...
and when I get there, I shall not be required to have a pass.

Go on, go on, oh ships! Only think of it; one hundred miles straight north, 
and I am free! [Shall I] try it?

Excerpt from Chapter 10 of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. This is a prose text; the line-breaks are arbitrary.

Submitted by Malcolm Wren [Guest Editor]


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Text added to the website: 2018-02-06.
Last modified: 2018-02-06 13:18:27
Line count: 17
Word count: 198

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