Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Guilt of Making Man Property

Canst thou, the honor'd with the Christian name,
Buy what is woman-born, and feel no shame?
Trade in the blood of innocence and plead
Expedience a warrant for the deed?
So may the wolf, whom famine has made bold
To quit the forest and invade the fold;
So may the ruffian, who with ghostly glide,
Dagger in hand, steals close to your bedside;
Not he, but his emergence forced the door,
He found it inconvient to be poor.
Has God then given his sweetness to the cane-
Unless his laws be trampled on- in vain?
Built a brave world, which cannot yet subsist,
Unless his right to rule it be dismiss'd?
Imprudent blasphemy! So Folly pleads,
And, Avarice being judge, with ease succeeds?
-William Cowper Compendium p.  745

As a friend to William Wilberforce, and the most famous poet of his time, Cowper's poetrycondemned slavery's great injustice and harm of so many. That is noble indeed.

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