“Free Labor”

By Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

 

 

I wear an easy garment,

O'er it no toiling slave

Wept tears of hopeless anguish,

In his passage to the grave.

 

And from its ample folds

Shall rise no cry to God,

Upon its warp and woof shall be

No stain of tears and blood.

 

Oh, lightly shall it press my form,

Unladen with a sigh,

I shall not 'mid its rustling hear,

Some sad despairing cry.

 

This fabric is too light to bear

The weight of bondsmen's tears,

I shall not in its texture trace

The agony of years.

 

Too light to bear a smother'd sigh,

From some lorn woman's heart,

Whose only wreath of household love

Is rudely torn apart.

 

Then lightly shall it press my form,

Unburden'd by a sigh;

And from its seams and folds shall rise,

No voice to pierce the sky,

 

And witness at the throne of God,

In language deep and strong,

That I have nerv'd Oppression's hand,

For deeds of guilt and wrong.