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E. P. Roger to Frederick Douglass, May 24, 1853



NEWARK, N. J., May 24th, 1853.

DEAR SIR:—Some of our friends in the
city of New York insist that I send you, oc-
casionally, some of my humble lines which
they call poetry.

Though for years I have been in the habit
of rhyming, and have done much in that di-
rection for societies and gatherings of our
people, yet I by no means claim the title of

Following, you will find, thrown into verse,
your eloquent apostrophe to the ships on the
Chesapeake Bay, while yet in bondage.—Those soul-stirring words found on the sixty-
fourth page of your narrative have attracted
the notice of thousands.


"Loosed from your moorings you are free;

But fast in chains am I;

You move before the gentle gale,

Beneath the scourge I lie.

"You fly around the mighty globe,

You swift-winged angels be;

I am confined in iron bands,

Oh, God, that I were free!


"Oh! that I were on one of you,

'Neath your protecting wing—

Upon your gallant decks no more

To feel oppression's sting.

"But ah! alas! 'twixt me and you

The turbid waves roll high;

Go on! go on! I'd gladly go

Could I but swim or fly.

"The ships are gone—they hide afar;

I'm left in hottest hell;

Why was I born to be a brute

With early friends to dwell?

"Why am I thus a wretched slave?

Oh God deliver me!

Is there a God? thy power vouchsafe,

And let me now be free.

"Oppression I will not endure—

I rather choose to die;

Come life, or death, I must be free,

God helping me I'll try."

When thus thy mighty spirit yearned,

The chains could not confine;

Thou didst resolve to strike the blow,

And Liberty was thine.


Roger, E. P.




E. P. Roger to Frederick Douglass. PLIr: Frederick DouglassP, 10 June 1853. Sets to verse his description of the Chesapeake Bay from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.


This document was calendared in the published volume and has not been published in full before.


Frederick Douglass' Paper



Publication Status



Frederick Douglass' Paper