The Yankee Girl

A poem by John Greenleaf Whittier

She sings by her wheel at that low cottage door,
Which the long evening shadow is stretching before;
With a music as sweet as the music which seems
Breathed softly and faintly in the ear of our dreams!

How brilliant and mirthful the light of her eye,
Like a star glancing out from the blue of the sky!
And lightly and freely her dark tresses play
O'er a brow and a bosom as lovely as they!

Who comes in his pride to that low cottage door
The haughty and rich to the humble and poor?
'Tis the great Southern planter the master who waves
His whip of dominion o'er hundreds of slaves.

"Nay, Ellen, for shame! Let those Yankee fools spin,
Who would pass for our slaves with a change of their skin;
Let them toil as they will at the loom or the wheel
Too stupid for shame and too vulgar to feel!

"But thou art too lovely and precious a gem
To be bound to their burdens and sullied by them
For shame, Ellen, shame! cast thy bondage aside,
And away to the South, as my blessing and pride.

"O, come where no winter thy footsteps can wrong,
But where flowers are blossoming all the year long,
Where the shade of the palm-tree is over my home,
And the lemon and orange are white in their bloom!

"O, come to my home, where my servants shall all
Depart at thy bidding and come at thy call;
They shall heed thee as mistress with trembling and awe,
And each wish of thy heart shall be felt as a law."

O, could ye have seen her that pride of our girls
Arise and cast back the dark wealth of her curls,
With a scorn in her eye which the gazer could feel,
And a glance like the sunshine that flashes on steel:

"Go back, haughty Southron! thy treasures of gold
Are dim with the blood of the hearts thou hast sold!
Thy home may be lovely, but round it I hear
The crack of the whip and the footsteps of fear!

"And the sky of thy South may be brighter than ours,
And greener thy landscapes, and fairer thy flowers;
But, dearer the blast round our mountains which raves,
Than the sweet sunny zephyr which breathes over slaves!

"Full low at thy bidding thy negroes may kneel,
With the iron of bondage on spirit and heel;
Yet know that the Yankee girl sooner would be
In fetters with them, than in freedom with thee!

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