The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Tuesday and Harpers Ferry

Brown of Ossawatomie
By John Greenleaf Whittier

John Brown of Ossawatomie spake on his dying day:
"I will not have to shrive my soul a priest in Slavery's pay.
But let some poor slave-mother whom I have striven to free,
With her children, from the gallows-stair put up a prayer for me!"

John Brown of Ossawatomie, they led him out to die;
And lo! a poor slave-mother with her little child pressed nigh.
Then the bold, blue eye grew tender, and the old harsh face grew mild,
As he stooped between the jeering ranks and kissed the negro's child!

The shadows of his stormy life that moment fell apart;
And they who blamed the bloody hand forgave the loving heart.
That kiss from all its guilty means redeemed the good intent,
And round the grisly fighter's hair the martyr's aureole bent!

Perish with him the folly that seeks through evil good!
Long live the generous purpose unstained with human blood!
Not the raid of midnight terror, but the thought which underlies;
Not the borderer's pride of daring, but the Christian's sacrifice.

Nevermore may yon Blue Ridges the Northern rifle hear,
Nor see the light of blazing homes flash on the negro's spear.
But let the free-winged angel Truth their guarded passes scale,
To teach that right is more than might, and justice more than mail!

So vainly shall Virginia set her battle in array;
In vain her trampling squadrons knead the winter snow with clay.
She may strike the pouncing eagle, but she dares not harm the dove;
And every gate she bars to Hate shall open wide to Love!


It was for all purposes the last day of school for my kids on Monday, though both of them will be with classmates tomorrow -- Adam on the eighth grade trip to Kings Dominion, Daniel at the magnet program picnic. I can't believe I have a high school senior (though I nearly strangled him earlier in the evening when he announced that we needed to turn in our portion of the pre-college packet tomorrow, before clarifying that we actually just have to have it finished by our meeting with his counselor in the fall). I picked Daniel up in the morning after his last exam, the county-wide standard English test (and therefore his easiest final), and we spent the afternoon hanging out and watching footage of the E3 on YouTube. He was all excited about some Xbox announcement that sounded like a foreign language to me.

I dragged poor Daniel to CVS for necessities such as new headphones for Adam, but otherwise most of the excitement of the day involved things that annoy cats -- Rosie got into her friends' food and her stomach was off all day, which was even less fun for her than for us. (Oh, and I won 100 virtual coins for being the first Twitter follower of Superpoke Pets to know that the new masterpiece painting in the game is based on Mucha's The Blonde.) We watched Doctor Who's "The Lodger" in the evening in between threatening Daniel over the college paperwork and helping Adam find bags and a wrist strap for his trip; the Doctor aspects of it were cute, but the overall lack of female agency on the series this season is really aggravating.

In fact, looking at my notes on the episode, most of the things I really loved were throwaway moments: the Van Gogh exhibit card on the refrigerator, the Charles and Diana wedding teapot, "Lots of people talk to cats!" The opening is cute -- "I love you!" "Well, that's good, because I'm your new lodger" -- but I kept waiting for Amy to figure out how to do something that the Doctor was missing out on because he wasn't on the TARDIS and she was, when really all she did was serve as a sounding board. Meanwhile Sophie was even more passive than Craig in terms of deciding what to do with her life and who she wanted to spend it with. So as cute as the reference from the Archbishop of Canterbury, the "scanner" made from household objects, and the soccer game might have been -- there was much discussion in my family about whether the second goal should have been legal -- ultimately I wasn't much impressed.

Stephen Colbert just declared that the oil spill is getting through BP's hands to our shores just like a soccer ball getting through a British goalie's hands to score, and English muffins shall now be known as freedom muffins. Between that and Betty White on The Daily Show, I have had some decent laughs this evening. Here are some more photos from Harpers Ferry last weekend:

The fire engine house known as John Brown's Fort, where he kept his hostages and made his stand. It was disassembled and moved to the World's Fair in Chicago, then returned to Harpers Ferry by way of Storer College.

Many of the important buildings from earlier eras are no longer standing, but their outlines are marked by stones.

Of course, there were residents in the area before Robert Harper arrived.

But the emphasis in the visitor center is on events leading up to and resulting from Brown's raid, such as this map of the town as it looked at that time.

The Blue Ridge region is full of wildlife and wildflowers, and what's left of the Shenandoah Canal has become a wetlands.

There were many geese with goslings and a few ducks with ducklings.

Here is Adam creeping out on a downed tree to try to take a photo of a turtle.

And here is a photo taken by Adam out the car window of the view of Harpers Ferry from across the Shenandoah River, with St. Peter's spire prominent on the left.

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