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Song of the Negro Boatmen - Atlantic

  Oh, praise an' tanks! De Lord he come
    To set de people free;
  An' massa tink it day ob doom,
    An' we ob jubilee.
  De Lord dat heap de Red Sea waves
    He jus' as 'trong as den;
  He say de word: we las' night slaves;
    To-day, de Lord's freemen.
      De yam will grow, de cotton blow,
        We'll hab de rice an' corn:
      Oh, nebber you fear, if nebber you hear
        De driver blow his horn!

  Ole massa on he trabbels gone;
    He leab de land behind:
  De Lord's breff blow him furder on,
    Like corn-shuck in de wind.
  We own de hoe, we own de plough,
    We own de hands dat hold;
  We sell de pig, we sell de cow,
    But nebber chile be sold.
      De yam will grow, de cotton blow,
        We'll hab de rice an' corn:
      Oh, nebber you fear, if nebber you hear
        De driver blow his horn!

  We pray de Lord: he gib us signs
    Dat some day we be free;

  De Norf-wind tell it to de pines,
    De wild-duck to de sea;
  We tink it when de church-bell ring,
    We dream it in de dream;
  De rice-bird mean it when he sing,
    De eagle when he scream.
      De yam will grow, de cotton blow,
        We'll hab de rice an' corn:
      Oh, nebber you fear, if nebber you hear
        De driver blow his horn!

  We know de promise nebber fail,
    An' nebber lie de word;
  So, like de 'postles in de jail,
    We waited for de Lord:
  An' now he open ebery door,
    An' trow away de key;
  He tink we lub him so before,
    We lub him better free.
      De yam will grow, de cotton blow,
        He'll gib de rice an' corn:
      So nebber you fear, if nebber you hear
        De driver blow his horn!

  So sing our dusky gondoliers;
    And with a secret pain,
  And smiles that seem akin to tears,
    We hear the wild refrain.

  We dare not share the negro's trust,
    Nor yet his hope deny;
  We only know that God is just,
    And every wrong shall die.

  Rude seems the song; each swarthy face,
    Flame-lighted, ruder still;
  We start to think that hapless race
    Must shape our good or ill;

  That laws of changeless justice bind
    Oppressor with oppressed;
  And, close as sin and suffering joined,
    We march to Fate abreast.

  Sing on, poor hearts! your chant shall be
    Our sign of blight or bloom,—
  The Vala-song of Liberty,
    Or death-rune of our doom!