Thy country knows the sin and stands the shame!
The preacher, poet, senator, in vain
Has rattled in her sight the Negro's chain,
With his deep groans assailed her startled ear
And rent the veil that hid his constant tear,
Forced her averted eyes his stripes to scan,
Beneath the bloody scourge laid bare the man,
Claimed pity's tear, urged conscience's strong control
And flashed conviction on her shrinking soul.
The muse, too soon awakened, with ready tongue
At mercy's shrine applausive paeans rung,
And freedom's eager sons in vain foretold
A new astrean reign, an age of gold!
She knows and she persists - still Afric bleeds;
Unchecked, the human traffic still proceeds;
She stamps her infamy to future time
and on her hardened forehead seals the crime.
-- Anna Laetitia Barbauld (1792)