The Slave [poem, 6 November 1823]

[Editor: A poem with an anti-slavery theme. Published in the Sydney Gazette, and New South Wales Advertiser, 6 November 1823.]

Original poetry.

(By Australasianus).

The Slave.

In Barbadoes’ scorch’d isle, on the verge of the main,
Sable Zimeo’s form was reclin’d;
He wept his dark destiny, gaz’d on his chain,
And mingled his sighs with the wind:—

“O ye Gods!” he exclaimed, “whose beneficent care
“Shields the innocent suff’rer from woe,
“Permit me no longer these shackles to bear —
“Some gleam of soft pity bestow.

“In the dawn of my youth, dear companions! with you,
“When I rambled, in Afric’s green shade;
“When my hours, ’mid your smiles, so delightfully flew,
“I dream’d not they ever would fade.

“On the lip of my Ninda, when panting with love,
“In what extacies heav’d my fond heart! —
“When we vow’d, by those Pow’rs in the mansions above,
“That we never — no, never, would part.

“The bright sun of prosperity glisten’d awhile,
“Diffusing his lov’liest rays;
“I bask’d ’neath the phantom’s encouraging smile,
“And bliss was the badge of my days.

“Till a little black cloud, forg’d by daemons of air,
“And wing’d by the Fates from below,
“Interpos’d ’tween my eyes and that sun’s cheerful glare,
“And hurl’d me from bliss into woe!

“Well vers’d in the arts of seduction and wile,
“White merchants arriv’d in our bay, —
“Entic’d us on board, unsuspicious of guile,
“And bore us, in triumph, away.

“On that accurst day all my happiness fled —
“My Ninda, my country, my home;
“Here, slavery’s ignoble fetters are spread —
“Here liberty never will come.

“Oh, ‘never!’ what daggers compose the dread word,
“But this weary pilgrimage o’er —
“I go where the sound of sweet mercy is heard,
“Where mis’ry’s remember’d no more.”

Thus Zimeo, with a disconsolate air,
While the wild breezes boist’rously blew;
He ’rose, hapless victim, poor child of despair —
And plung’d in the billows below!

Sydney, Nov. 5 1823.

Sydney Gazette, and New South Wales Advertiser (Sydney, NSW), 6 November 1823, p. 4

Editor’s notes:
daemon = a supernatural being; the attendant spirit or inner spirit of a person or place; (archaic) demon

Fates = in Greek and Roman mythology, the Fates were three goddesses of destiny, who oversaw and controlled the destiny of humans; known to the Greeks as the Moirai (Atropos, Clotho, and Lachesis), and to the Romans as the Parcae (Decima, Morta, and Nona), with similar supernatural beings appearing in Norse mythology (the Norns) and Slavic mythology (the Sudice)

fetter = a chain, manacle, or shackle placed around a prisoner’s ankle; something which confines or restrains; to put fetters upon; to confine, restrain, or restrict

o’er = over (pronounced the same as “oar”, “or”, and “ore”)

sable = a colour that is black, dark, or gloomy (“sables” was an archaic term for garments worn for mourning; “sable” in heraldry refers to black); arising from the colour of dark sable fur, as taken from a sable (a furry mammal, Martes zibellina, which is primarily found in Russia and northern East Asia, and noted for its fur which has traditionally been used for clothing); in the context of the Australian Aborigines or African Negroes, a reference to their skin colour as being black

Old spelling in the original text:
accurst (accursed)
Afric (Africa)
’rose (arose)

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