Subscribe: by Email | in Reader

The Slave's Dream -- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Guest poem sent in by Rajarshi Bandyopadhyay
(Poem #629) The Slave's Dream
 Beside the ungathered rice he lay,
   His sickle in his hand;
 His breast was bare, his matted hair
   Was buried in the sand.
 Again, in the mist and shadow of sleep,
   He saw his Native Land.

 Wide through the landscape of his dreams
   The lordly Niger flowed;
 Beneath the palm-trees on the plain
   Once more a king he strode;
 And heard the tinkling caravans
   Descend the mountain-road.

 He saw once more his dark-eyed queen
   Among her children stand;
 They clasped his neck, they kissed his cheeks,
   They held him by the hand!--
 A tear burst from the sleeper's lids
   And fell into the sand.

 And then at furious speed he rode
   Along the Niger's bank;
 His bridle-reins were golden chains,
   And, with a martial clank,
 At each leap he could feel his scabbard of steel
   Smiting his stallion's flank.

 Before him, like a blood-red flag,
   The bright flamingoes flew;
 >From morn till night he followed their flight,
   O'er plains where the tamarind grew,
 Till he saw the roofs of Caffre huts,
   And the ocean rose to view.

 At night he heard the lion roar,
   And the hyena scream,
 And the river-horse, as he crushed the reeds
   Beside some hidden stream;
 And it passed, like a glorious roll of drums,
   Through the triumph of his dream.

 The forests, with their myriad tongues,
   Shouted of liberty;
 And the Blast of the Desert cried aloud,
   With a voice so wild and free,
 That he started in his sleep and smiled
   At their tempestuous glee.

 He did not feel the driver's whip,
   Nor the burning heat of day;
 For Death had illumined the Land of Sleep,
   And his lifeless body lay
 A worn-out fetter, that the soul
   Had broken and thrown away!
-- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
For some reason, 'Reverie of Mahomed...Tank' reminded me of another dream
poem, 'The Slave's Dream' by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I guess it is the
same idea of the poet trying to 'live' another person's feelings, especially
a person from a different culture/race. [An interesting twist to the theme,
and not one I'd thought of -m.]

I think 'The Slave's dream' is a great poem because of the way it draws the
reader emotionally into itself...and the way it seems to control the
emotions. Initially we feel pity, sadness, at the present condition of the
slave, and then the nostalgic feeling of pride and glory when he thinks of
his royal past. And finally, it ends on a note of triumph and hope.



Hope's 'Reverie of Mahomed' was part of the current 'Dream' theme: poem #627

For a biography of Longfellow, see poem #172

44 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Haydn and Jeanne said...

Dear ?,
Saw the film Amistad last night and my wife told me about a very moving poem she used to read over end over again as a little girl. Then we found it on your web site. Thanks. The last verse is the most moving, the contrast between his former life and reality is stark.

anne.milne said...

studied a long time ago at primary school-this poem made a deep impression. Great to re-read and re-think.

Rob Laking said...

I've just come back from hospital where my 87-year-old mother is,
temporarily I think: she had a fall but it doesn't seem that the injury is
serious. Her greatest injury is simply old age. She has been drifting in and
out of sleep she tells me and fragments of poetry and blank verse she
learned as a girl at school or a young woman come into her head unbidden.
Amongst others, she remembered the opening stanza of this Longfellow poem. I
wrote it down, telling her I would look it up (God bless Google). I agree
with another comment: it's of its time in sentimentality but an honest
attempt to see through another's eyes and in the end not a sad poem -
triumphal almost. I liked it because she remembered it, and it gave her


John Black said...

Rob Laking's comment brought a tear to my eye when I read it this
lunchtime. I visited my Mum last week in the residential home where she
has lived for the past few years. She is 82 and sadly well past her best
before date. She was recalling her favourite poem and claimed I had a
book containing it in the loft and asked that I found it. OK, so I've
found it now but just in case I thought I would do a search on the web.

The final line of Rob's comment just seemed so appropriate....

John Black

Mr Denis Hayward said...

Remembered snippets of this poem from Primary
School and was thrilled to find it again - made a big impression on a small child

Jamal Mohamed (jmohamed) said...

I was talking to my wife couple of hours ago about a Poem I read in my
Primary School that left an indelible mark in my mind....thanks for
helping me relive my child hood memory 'The Slave's dream' by Henry

Ajit Hutheesing said...

I am not sure why this email is addressed to ssiyer since the website
suggested it was Rajarshri Bandyopadhyay. But, it does not really matter.

I grew up in Bombay and other parts of India. My mother was Jawaharlal
Nehru's sister, Krishna Nehru. The Nehru family had been close to
Rabindranath Tagore and Sarojini Naidu - both great poets - and I was made
to recite their poetry as India was going through its struggle for
independence. We also read many other great poets and literary giants -
Keats, Yeats, Longfellow, John Donne - and on and on.

As an 8,9,10 year old, one of the poems that stuck in my head was The
Slave's Dream. It reminded us again and again of the giants of India's
freedom movement who were subjected to servitude in prison - I lost one of
my relatives, Ranjit Pandit (Vijaya Lakshmi Pandit's husband) following a
prolonged imprisonment, and almost lost my father, Raja Hutheesing, at the
same time. Through all this, poems like The Slaves Dream put in perspective
our losses - enlightened Indians being treated as common criminals. But, in
the end, it was a human experience that may well have built the character of
our leaders - if not the wisdom of their political and economic policies !!

I have been searching for the The Slave's Dream for many years, and I am not
sure why the web did not deliver it to me until today. I thank Rajarshi and
others who brought this beautiful poem back to me in all its literary and
emotional content.

I hope I shall be in contact with those of you who share not only the values
represented in this lament from Longfellow - but in the application of these
to illuminate the current predicament of declining social and economic
values which we have to endure.



Maria V said...

i always remember this poem, we learned it in school,and all through the years i thought about it often,sometimes it can relate to things we go through in life,thanks for posting it.

Anonymous said...

We stumbled over here by a different web page and thought
I should check things out. I like what I see so now i'm following you. Look forward to looking into your web page for a second time.

Here is my weblog - kliknij

Anonymous said...

That is very fascinating, You are an excessively professional
blogger. I have joined your feed and stay up for
looking for more of your excellent post. Additionally, I have shared your site in my social networks

Feel free to surf to my weblog kliknij

Anonymous said...

After going over a number of the articles on your web page,
I honestly appreciate your way of blogging. I added
it to my bookmark webpage list and will be checking back in the
near future. Please check out my web site as well and tell
me what you think.

Also visit my webpage: kliknij

Anonymous said...

I’m not that much of a online reader to be honest but your sites really nice, keep
it up! I'll go ahead and bookmark your site to come back down the road. Cheers

Feel free to surf to my web page; kliknij

Anonymous said...

If you desire to obtain a good deal from this post then you have
to apply such methods to your won website.

Feel free to visit my page kliknij

Anonymous said...

Wow, fantastic blog layout! How long have you been blogging for?
you made blogging look easy. The overall look of your website is
great, as well as the content!

my blog kliknij

Anonymous said...

I couldn't resist commenting. Perfectly written!

Here is my page :: kliknij

Anonymous said...

Superb, what a weblog it is! This weblog presents helpful
facts to us, keep it up.

my page: kliknij

Anonymous said...

I like it when people come together and share opinions.
Great site, stick with it!

Feel free to visit my weblog ... kliknij

Anonymous said...

Thanks in favor of sharing such a fastidious thought, article is good, thats why i have read
it completely

Feel free to visit my page - kliknij

Anonymous said...

What a stuff of un-ambiguity and preserveness of valuable experience regarding unpredicted

Feel free to surf to my blog: kliknij

Anonymous said...

Incredible! This blog looks just like my old one! It's on a entirely different topic but it has pretty much the same layout and design. Great choice of colors!

My blog post;

Anonymous said...

My developer is trying to convince me to move to .net from PHP.
I have always disliked the idea because of the expenses.
But he's tryiong none the less. I've been using Movable-type
on a number of websites for about a year and am nervous about switching
to another platform. I have heard good things about blogengine.
net. Is there a way I can transfer all my wordpress content
into it? Any kind of help would be greatly appreciated!

My weblog ... kliknij

Anonymous said...

Amazing! Its actually remarkable paragraph, I have got much clear idea on the topic of from this paragraph.

Feel free to visit my site

Anonymous said...

Great blog! Is your theme custom made or did you download it from somewhere?
A theme like yours with a few simple tweeks would
really make my blog shine. Please let me know where you got your theme.
Many thanks

Here is my blog post; kliknij

Anonymous said...

Spot on with this write-up, I absolutely believe that this website needs far more attention.
I'll probably be back again to see more, thanks for the advice!

my website ...

Anonymous said...

Woah! I'm really loving the template/theme of this website. It's simple, yet effective.
A lot of times it's hard to get that "perfect balance" between usability and visual appearance. I must say you've
done a great job with this. In addition, the blog loads super fast
for me on Opera. Superb Blog!

my webpage ... kliknij

Anonymous said...

Hi there! Do you know if they make any plugins to help with
SEO? I'm trying to get my blog to rank for some targeted keywords but I'm not seeing very good gains.

If you know of any please share. Cheers!

Look into my web page; kliknij

Anonymous said...

Definitely believe that which you stated. Your favorite reason appeared to be on the
internet the easiest thing to be aware of. I say to you,
I certainly get irked while people think about
worries that they plainly don't know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and also defined out the whole thing without having side effect , people could take a signal. Will likely be back to get more. Thanks

Check out my web page :: kliknij

Anonymous said...

If you want to take much from this piece of writing then you have to apply such techniques to your won web site.

Also visit my site :: kliknij

Anonymous said...

You could certainly see your expertise within the work you write.
The arena hopes for more passionate writers like you who are not afraid to
say how they believe. All the time go after your heart.

my blog ... kliknij

Daniel Clark said...

Thank you, I’ve just been searching for information about this topic for a while and yours is the greatest I’ve discovered till now. SEO PEST CONTROL AND ETHICS | Casino and poker | But, what in regards to the conclusion? Are you sure concerning the supply?

Lina Kesepian said...

thanks for the information, I wait for other information , greetings from us Pembesar penis

Obat Herbal said...

Seberat apapun beban masalah yang kamu hadapi saat ini, percayalah bahwa semua itu tidak pernah melebihi batas kemampuan kamu.

Post a Comment