The Singer in the Prison
2 The sun was low in the west one winter day, When down a narrow aisle amid the thieves and outlaws of the land, (There by the hundreds seated, sear-faced murderers, wily counterfeiters, Gather'd to Sunday church in prison walls, the keepers round, Plenteous, well-armed, watching with vigilant eyes,) Calmly a lady walk'd holding a little innocent child by either hand, Whom seating on their stools beside her on the platform, She, first preluding with the instrument a low and musical prelude, In voice surpassing all, sang forth a quaint old hymn. A soul confined by bars and bands, Cries, help! O help! and wrings her hands, Blinded her eyes, bleeding her breast, Nor pardon finds, nor balm of rest. Ceaseless she paces to and fro, O heart-sick days! O nights of woe! Nor hand of friend, nor loving face, Nor favor comes, nor word of grace. It was not I that sinn'd the sin, The ruthless body dragg'd me in; Though long I strove courageously, The body was too much for me. Dear prison'd soul bear up a space, For soon or late the certain grace; To set thee free and bear thee home, The heavenly pardoner death shall come. Convict no more, nor shame, nor dole! Depart—a God-enfranchis'd soul!
Posted on 15/04/2015, in literature, poetry and tagged 19th Century Poetry, American literature, American poets, Daily Whitman, free verse, Leaves of Grass, literature, poems, poetry, Transcendentalists, Walt Whitman. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.