Voices Beyond Bondage: An Anthology of Verse by African Americans of the 19th Century



Voices Beyond Bondage: An Anthology of Verse by African Americans of the 19th Century

This edition

"Voices Beyond Bondage: An Anthology of Verse by African Americans of the 19th Century" . Ed. Erike DeSimone and Fidel Louis. Montgomery, AL: NewSouth, 2014. xxxvii+310 pp.

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Table of contents

Erika DeSimone and Fidel Louis / Introduction
Erika DeSimone and Fidel Louis / The Early Black-Owned Press and the Poetry Movement: A Journalistic Perspective

I: Bondage & Calls to Freedom
● B. B. / Freedom ["Freedom's Journal" 7 Sept. 1827]
● Africus / The Tears of a Slave ["Freedom's Journal" 14 March 1828]
● George M. Horton / Slavery ["Freedom's Journal" 18 July 1828]
● Anon. / The African's Dream ["The Colored American" 3 April 1841]
● S. F. B. / The Northern Star ["The Northern Star and Freeman's Advocate" 3 Feb. 1842]
● A Lady of Vermont / Song of the American Eagle ["The North Star" 7 Jan. 1848]
● W. G. H. / The Fugitive ["The North Star" 21 Jan. 1848]
● S. S. W. / The North Star ["The North Star" 28 Jan. 1848]
● Theodore Doughty Miller / God Never Made a Sin ["The Louisville Newspaper" 10 Feb. 1849]
● Mrs. S. H. B. Smith / The Negro Girl ["The North Star" 20 July 1849]
● S. D. Anderson / Song of Brotherhood ["The North Star" 7 Sept. 1849]
● Ellesbo / The Youthful Captive ["The Louisville Newspaper" Feb. 1850]
● H. M. / The Auction Block ["Frederick Douglass' Paper" 2 Oct. 1851]
● G. W. Putnam / The Rescue of Jerry ["Frederick Douglass' Paper" 22 Oct. 1852]
● E. P. Rogers / Untitled ["Loosed from your moorings you are free"] ["Frederick Douglass' Paper" 10 June 1853]
● Anon. / The Fugitive's Soliloquy and Prayer After His Rendition to Slavery ["Frederick Douglass' Paper" 18 Aug. 1854]
● The Workshop Bard / 'Tis the Worst and the Best ["Frederick Douglass' Paper" 25 Aug. 1854]
● Frances Ellen Watkins / The Slave Auction ["Frederick Douglass' Paper" 22 Sept. 1854]
● G. W. Putnam / To the Slave ["Frederick Douglass' Paper 10 Nov. 1854]
● H. G. A. / The Cry of the American Slave ["Frederick Douglass' Paper 20 April 1855]
● Vagante / The Nameless People ["Frederick Douglass' Paper 1 June 1855]
● Jessie Elwood / Nebraska and Slavery ["The Independent" Feb. 1857]
● Frances Ellen Watkins / Be Active ["The Weekly Anglo-African" 30 July 1859]
● Frances Ellen Watkins / The Dying Fugitive ["The Anglo-African Magazine" Aug. 1859]
● William Wells Brown / The Slave ["The Weekly Anglo-African" Feb. 1860]
● Samuel Wright / Address to Slavery ["The Weekly Anglo-African" 18 Feb. 1860]
● G. W. Putnam / The Sacrifice: 'Up! For It Is Time' ["Douglass' Monthly" Nov. 1860]
● Mingo / The Slave Mingo's Poem ["The Weekly Anglo-African" 10 Aug. 1861]
● Alson Landon Woodward / Some Hundred Thousands More[:] The Freedmen's Answer to President Lincoln--1863 ["Western Cyclone" 17 May 1866]
● J. Willis Menard / Anniversary Poem--July 4, 1867 ["The New Orleans Tribune" 7 July 1867]

II: Dedications & Remembrances
● Louisa / On Viewing the Lifeless Remains of a Very Dear Friend ["Freedom's Journal" 7 Dec. 1827]
● Amicus / Lines on the Death of Reverend Jeremiah Gloucester ["Freedom's Journal" 25 Jan. 1828]
● Mrs. M. Christian / Our Sister ["Mirror of Liberty" March 1839]
● G. W. Roots / The Palladium of Liberty ["The Palladium of Liberty" 27 Dec. 1843]
● Anon. / Memory of Clarkson[:] Lines Occasioned by the Death of Great and Good Thomas Clarkson ["The North Star" 7 Jan. 1848]
● J. P. / Forget Me Not ["The North Star" 18 Feb. 1848]
● Anon. / The Star and the Child ["The North Star" 9 March 1849]
● Frank Addison Mowig Philom / My Pen ["Frederick Douglass' Paper" 5 Feb. 1852]
● H. E. G. D. / To ****** ["Incarnate Truth and Right, for paltry gold"] ["Frederick Douglass' Paper" 12 Feb. 1852]
● Anon. / The Moral Hero[:] Suggested by the late Speech in Congress of Mr. Giddings ["Frederick Douglass' Paper" 15 Oct. 1852]
● Q. / To Mr. Fillmore On His Retirement from the Presidency ["Frederick Douglass' Paper" 18 March 1853]
● Ethiop / The Beggar Girl ["Frederick Douglass' Paper" 17 March 1854]
● Daniel Haynes / Southrons ["Frederick Douglass' Paper" 30 June 1854]
● R. / To Frederick Douglass ["Frederick Douglass' Paper" 13 Oct. 1854]
● K. L. C. / To Joshua R. Giddings On consenting to become a Candidate for Congress ["Frederick Douglass' Paper" 27 Oct. 1854]
● Anon. / The Dead Soldier ["Frederick Douglass' Paper" 2 Feb. 1855]
● Jenny Marsh / My Friend ["Frederick Douglass' Paper" 8 June 1855]
● Miss Martha T. Poor / Not Fully Identified ["The Weekly Anglo-African" 24 March 1860]
● R. J. Chiles / The Cry of the Loser ["The Weekly Anglo-African" 27 April 1861]
● Anon. / The Old Man to His Wife ["You say the're wrinkles in your face"] ["The Christian Recorder" 17 Jan. 1863]
● William Slade / The Slave to His Star ["The Weekly Anglo-African" 19 Sept. 1863]
● Anon. / Under the Snow ["Under the Snow our baby lies"] ["The Christian Recorder" 4 March 1865]
● Anon. / In Memory of Abraham Lincoln ["There is no nook nor corner"] ["The New Orleans Tribune" 20 Aug. 1865]
● Anon. / Most Respectfully Dedicated to the 73d. Late First Regiment Louisiana Native Guards ["Welcome ye sable heroes!"] ["The New Orleans Tribune" 5 Sept. 1865]
● A Citizen / A Welcome to Major Gen. N. P. Banks On His Return to New Orleans, 1865 ["The American Citizen" 19 April 1879]
● Paul M. Russell / In the Graveyard on the Hill ["The Kansas Herald" 6 Feb. 1880]
● T. J. B. / To My Alice ["The Christian Recorder" 20 Nov. 1884]
● R. J. Chiles / True Life ["The Richmond Planet" 21 Feb. 1885]
● Elijah W. Smith / A Tribute to William C. Nell ["The New York Freeman" 24 April 1886]
● Rosa Hazel / Bitter Sweet ["The Savannah Weekly Echo" 1 Oct. 1886]
● Anon. / Memorial Day ["With sound of solemn music"] ["The Benevolent Banner" 28 May 1887]
● The Ladies Dorcas Society / A Short Journey ["The Afro-American Advance" 24 June 1899]

III: Moral & Civic Perspectives
● Anon. / The Black Beauty Written from Solomon's Songs ["Freedom's Journal" 8 June 1827]
● Anon. / Sonnet to Adversity ["The Colored American" 17 April 1841]
● Anon. / The Temperance Banner ["Freedom's Advocate" 7 April 1842]
● M. R. / Loon on This Picture, and Then on That ["The Northern Star and Freeman's Advocate" 7 April 1842]
● Cynthia Hall / A Child's Appeal ["The Northern Star and Freeman's Advocate" 8 Dec. 1842]
● T. A. Shea / The Daughter's Prayer ["The Northern Star and Freeman's Advocate" 8 Dec. 1842]
● M. C. / Speak Not a Bitter Word ["The Palladium of Liberty" 26 June 1844]
● J. C. O. / Fearless and Faithful ["The North Star" 5 Jan. 1849]
● William Wallace / A Song ["Where is my Native Land?"] ["The North Star" 16 March 1849]
● Anon. / Martial Glory ["The North Star" 17 Aug. 1849]
● A. S. Standard / Sonnet ["You should not speak to think, nor think to speak"] ["Frederick Douglass' Paper" 31 July 1851]
● A. R. / The True Hero ["Frederick Douglass' Paper" 5 Feb. 1852]
● D. M. Kelsey / Christ and Mars--Or Christianity and War ["Frederick Douglass' Paper" 25 March 1852]
● J. A. Longford / Work While It Is Called To-Day ["Frederick Douglass' Paper" 10 Sept. 1852]
● Martin Cross / Colonization ["Frederick Douglass' Paper" 8 April. 1853]
● J. C. Holly Rochester / Friendship ["Frederick Douglass' Paper" 24 Nov. 1854]
● T. A. Shea / Our Voices ["The Weekly Anglo-African" March 1859]
● Lansford Lane / Battle With Life ["The Weekly Anglo-African" March 1859]
● Mrs. E. Coutee / He's None the Worse for That ["The Weekly Anglo-African" 30 July 1859]
● James Rochelle / Live Bravely ["The Weekly Anglo-African" 10 Dec. 1859]
● Cynthia Bayou / Be Content ["The Weekly Anglo-African" Jan. 1860]
● Anon. / Never Give Up ["Never give up while yet there's life"] ["The Concordia Eagle" 1 April 1882]
● Florence Bronson Tucker / Compensation ["The Negro World" 20 Oct. 1884]
● H. Lavell / Emigrate ["Western Cyclone" July 1886]
● Lewis Howard Latimer / Sympathy ["The New York Age" 20 Sept. 1890]
● S. H. Johnson / Which ["A problem faces you and I"] ["Historic Times" 26 Sept. 1891]
● Anon. / Set Yer Teeth an' Come Again! ["Don't loaf around an' kick when luck"] ["The Afro-American Advance" 16 Sept. 1899]

IV: Reminiscence and Humor
● C. E. E. / There Was a Time I Never Sighed ["Freedom's Journal" 6 April 1827]
● Anon. / Moveing Day ["I've seen an army put to rout"] ["Freedom's Journal" 4 May 1827]
● George M. Horton / On the Poetic Muse ["Freedom's Journal" 29 Aug. 1828]
● Lunsford Lane / Misconstrued ["Freedom's Press" Feb. 1842]
● T. A. Gould / Storms on Life's Ocean ["The North Star" 8 Dec. 1848]
● James Monroe Whitfield / Delusive Hope ["Frederick Douglass' Paper" 12 Nov. 1852]
● J. C. Holly / Grief ["Frederick Douglass' Paper" 29 Sept. 1854]
● Anon. / The Past ["The Past is past! with many a hopeful morrow!"] ["Frederick Douglass' Paper" 1 Dec. 1854]
● Luke Lichen / Galileo and the Telescope ["Frederick Douglass' Paper" 8 June 1855]
● Anon. / The Promise of the Past ["The Independent" March 1857]
● Isabel Hotchkiss / The Outcast ["The Independent" 19 Dec. 1858]
● Terence P. / Life Is Fading ["The Weekly Anglo-African" 10 Dec. 1859]
● Addie M. Hamilton / Forgotten ["The Weekly Anglo-African" 12 Dec. 1863]
● Anon. / It Only Seems the Other Day ["The Union" Sept. 1864]
● Xanthos / Home ["The Loyal Georgian" 27 Jan. 1866]
● Anon. / Asking and Giving ["The Missionary Record" 5 July 1873]
● Anon. / Kindness to Animals ["The Concordia Eagle" 7 April 1877]
● Anon. / A Pleasant Walk at Night ["The American Citizen" 19 April 1879]
● Percy Hale / Sonnet ["Was it a dream, those glorious days of yore"] ["The New York Freeman" 14 Aug. 1886]
● H. J. Burdette / The Schoolmarm ["The Savannah Weekly Echo" 15 Oct. 1886]
● Lewis Howard Latimer / Humidity ["The New York Age" 16 Aug. 1890]
● Lewis Howard Latimer / The Ebon Venus ["The New York Age" 27 Sept. 1890]
● W. H. A. Moore / Visions ["The New York Age" 11 July 1891]
● Lewis Howard Latimer / Life ["The New York Age" 13 Feb. 1892]
● James M. Harrison / When My Ship Comes Home ["The Richmond Planet" 5 May 1894]
● Julia M. Colton / The Punctuation Points ["National Baptist World" 7 Sept. 1894]
● Anon. / The Man in the Hole ["The Afro-American Advance" 8 July 1899]
● S. F. Kiner / The World's Judgment ["The Afro-American Advance" 12 Aug. 1899]

V: Spirit & the Natural World
● George M. Horton / On the Evening and Morning ["Freedom's Journal" 15 Aug. 1828]
● W. / On the Sabbath ["Freedom's Journal" 19 Sept. 1828]
● Mary Gordon / Evening ["The Rights of All" 12 June 1829]
● Anon. / The Snow Storm ["Weekly Advocate" 21 Jan. 1837]
● Ellen / Stanzas ["Flowers--which come and pass away,"] ["The Northern Star and Freeman's Advocate" 10 Feb. 1842]
● J. D. / God Is There ["The North Star" 21 Jan. 1848]
● Elizabeth M. Sargent / Great Deeds ["The North Star" 26 Jan. 1849]
● James Monroe Whitfield / Morning Song ["Frederick Douglass' Paper" 28 July 1854]
● Jenny Marsh / Life Is Perfected by Death ["Frederick Douglass' Paper" 13 April 1855]
● Charlotte Piles / Untitled ["Sisters with the heart of Martha"] ["Frederick Douglass' Paper" 14 Dec. 1855]
● James M. Smith / No Cross, No Crown ["Weekly African Magazine" Sept. 1859]
● Frances Ellen Watkins / Thank God for Little Children ["The Weekly Anglo-African" 28 Jan. 1860]
● W. S. / The Star of the East ["The Christian Recorder" 2 March 1861]
● J. Willis Menard / The Episcopal Mould ["The Christian Recorder" 2 Jan. 1864]
● Angeline R. Demby / Sweet Star of Hope A Sacred Ballad ["The Christian Recorder" 27 Jan. 1866]
● Anon. / A Ramble in August ["The Loyal Georgian" 24 Aug. 1867]
● Henrietta / A Summer Morning ["The Christian Recorder" 30 July 1870]
● Frances Ellen Watkins Harper / Saved at Last ["The Christian Recorder" 7 Aug. 1873]
● George Miller / Spring ["The Christian Recorder" 6 April 1882]
● R. J. Chiles / Near to the End ["The Weekly Defiance" 11 Nov. 1882]
● Mrs. L. S. Bedford / Why Do I Sing? ["The Weekly Defiance " 24 Feb. 1883]
● R. R. George / Transfigured ["The Christian Recorder" 22 March 1883]
● T. M. D. Ward / A Hymn of Praise ["Christian Recorder" 31 May 1883]
● R. J. Chiles / The Temple of Peace ["The New York Globe" 21 June 1884]
● Mrs. E. Coutee / Forest Prayer ["The Weekly Defiance" 29 June 1884]
● Mrs. Helen Lavell / The Cyclone ["Western Cyclone" 20 May 1886]
● W. Carl Bolivar / The Coming of the King ["The New York Freeman" 29 Jan. 1887]
● W. H. A. Moore / The Token ["The New York Age" 5 July 1890]
● W. H. A. Moore / 'Mid Night's Sweet Calm ["The New York Age" 4 Oct. 1890]
● T. M. D. Ward / Faith and Hope ["The Christian Recorder" 23 March 1893]
● Anon. / Temptation ["National Baptist World" 14 Sept. 1894]
● Anon. / Commit Thy Way ["National Baptist World" 12 Oct. 1894]
● Unknown / In Woodlands ["The Afro-American Advance" 5 Aug. 1899]

Image Sources and Credits
Index of Poem Titles
Index of First Lines

About the anthology

● The anthology includes poems originally published from 1827 to 1899, arranged in five broad thematic sections and chronologically within each section.
● In addition to an extensive introductory essay, the editors supply light annotations and occasional commentary about the context of individual poem.

Publisher's description

"Slaves in chains, toiling on master's plantation. Beatings, bloodied whips. This is what many of us envision when we think of 19th century African Americans; source materials penned by those who suffered in bondage validate this picture. Yet slavery was not the only identity of 19th century African Americans. Whether they were freeborn, self-liberated, or born in the years after the Emancipation, African Americans had a rich cultural heritage all their own, a heritage largely subsumed in popular history and collective memory by the atrocity of slavery.
"The early 19th century birthed the nation's first black-owned periodicals, the first media spaces to provide primary outlets for the empowerment of African American voices. For many, poetry became this empowerment. Almost every black-owned periodical featured an open call for poetry, and African Americans, both free and enslaved, responded by submitting droves of poems for publication. Yet until now, these poems -- and an entire literary movement -- have been lost to modern readers.
"The poems in Voices Beyond Bondage address the horrific and the mundane, the humorous and the ordinary and the extraordinary. Authors wrote about slavery, but also about love, morality, politics, perseverance, nature, and God. These poems evidence authors who were passionate, dedicated, vocal, and above all resolute in a bravery which was both weapon and shield against a world of prejudice and inequity. These authors wrote to be heard; more than 150 years later it is at last time for us to listen" (publisher's website).

Reviews and notices of anthology

● [Holland, Jesse J.] [from AP] [Review] "Hindustan Times" (18 Sept. 2014): "Editors Erika DeSimone and Fidel Louis combed through thousands [sic!] of black newspapers and pamphlets like The North Star, Freedom's Journal, Frederick Douglass' Paper, Western Cyclone and The Christian Recorder to find 150 poems written by black slaves and black freedmen and freedwomen to help flesh out what they call a gap in the history of the black literary movement. . . . A work of more than a decade, the project came about as Louis was working on his thesis about the black press and noticed that many if not all of the black newspapers of that time included poetry in each issue. Louis began to collect these poems and was joined by DeSimone in 2002 in vetting the thousands of works to ensure they were actually written by African-American poets and choosing which ones to include in this collection. The collection aims to fill in gaps in the commonly accepted history of black poetry. Works by more famous poets like Jupiter Hammon and Phyllis Wheatley--the first published African-American poets--are purposely missing, the editors said. . . . to many, the black literary movement starts with Hammon and Wheatley, then skips all the way to Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, James Weldon Johnson and the Harlem Renaissance with little to no thought about the poets in the interim, the editors said. . . The black newspaper saw its job not to just inform, educate and entertain, but also to serve as an outlet for black literature that was ignored by the mainstream white press. . . . DeSimone and Louis' work expands the field of black poetry, disproves the myth that 19th-century African-Americans were illiterate or uneducated, and should be a welcome addition to any historian or poetry lover's library."
● Ponton, David, III [Review]. "Journal of Southern History" 81 (2015): 1054.
"After an introduction to the book and an essay describing the economic, political, and interpersonal exigencies that resulted in the rise and fall of black presses throughout the nineteenth century, the authors [i.e. editors] present the 150 poems they have selected out of about a thousand." In their introduction to the section on "Spirit and the Natural World," the editors argue for a distinction between "African American traditions of Christian worship" and "Anglo-based interpretations" (xvi, xvii): "This notion does not sit well with trends in African American religious scholarship, as evinced in Sylvia R. Frey and Betty Wood's 'Come Shouting to Zion: African American Protestantism in the American South and British Caribbean to 1830' (Chapel Hill, 1998), that American evangelicalism in the nineteenth century emerged out of the collective practices, beliefs, behaviors, and rituals of blacks and whites."
● Holland, Jesse J. [from AP] [Review]. "Richmond Times-Dispatch" 8 Nov. 2014:
[a curtailed version of the review published more extensively in the "Hindustan Times" above]
● [Holland, Jesse J.] [from AP] [Review] "The Columbus Dispatch" 28 Sept. 2014.
[same review as above, fuller version]
● Gardner, Jan. "A moving collection of poems from black newspapers." "Boston Globe" 20 Feb. 2016.
● Clifford, Annette. "'Bondage' gives voice to black-owned presses." "Montgomery Advertiser" 14 Sept. 2014:
"If the old Southern myth that blacks were somehow happy under slavery persists — and recent comments by some ill-informed newsmakers such as Clive Bundy and Phil Robertson indicate it does — here’s a book to shatter any lingering ignorance on the subject. “Voices Beyond Bondage” is a scrupulously researched and edited collection of poems from dozens of 19th-century black-owned presses that brings back to life a grassroots literary movement forgotten to time. In the newspapers’ open-call poetry columns, slaves and former slaves, freeborn blacks and blacks born after emancipation voiced their experiences, from the horrors of slavery to broader themes such as love and the passage of time, even humor about the heat, in sophisticated verse. The anthology provides what editors DeSimone and Louis call “a different, more nuanced, view of African-American history,” countering stereotypes of blacks as illiterate or inferior."

Commentary on anthology

• "The first anthology to focus on the poetry of the 19th century's black-owned press, the book compiles 150 poems culled from thirty-six black owned newspapers into one unique volume, bringing to light an almost completely neglected part of American history" (Discover Portsmouth http://portsmouthhistory.org/poetry-reveals-unseen-reality-of-black-lives-in-19th-century/ ).

See also

• "African American Poetry of the 1800s." Erika DeSimone, co-editor of the anthology, speaks with Peter O'Dowd of NPR's "Here & Now." 14 Nov. 2014. 8:47 min. audio clip.

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