Sarah Louisa Forten

The Slave Girl's Farewell

The incident which suggested the following lines is this: A young girl was living with her mother in one of the West Indian Islands, quite unconscious of her being a slave. Her master, on leaving the Island for a permanent residence in Louisiana, cruelly separated the girl from her parents forever.

Mother, I leave thee-thou hast been
Through long, long years of pain
The only hope my fond heart knew;
Or e'er shall know again.
The sails are set-my master waits
To bear me far from thee;
I linger-can I give thee up,
And cross the fearful sea?
Oh, let me gaze! how bright it seems
As busy memory flies
To view those scenes of other days,
Beneath those bright blue skies.
The little hut where I have played
In childhood's fearless hours-
The murmuring stream-the mossy bank,
Where I have gathered flowers.
I knew not then I was a slave,
Or that another's will,
Save thine, could bend my spirit's pride;
Or bid my lips be still.
Who now will soothe me at my toil,
Or bathe my weary brow?
Or shield me when the heavy lash
Is raised to give the glow?
Thy fond arms press me-and I feel
Thy tears upon my cheek;
Tears are the only language now
A mother's love can speak.
Think of me, mother, as I bend
My way across the sea;
And midst thy tears, a blessing waft,
To her who prays for thee.