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9 Robert Southey, “To the Genius of Africa” (1797)

O thou, who from the mountain’s height
Rollest thy clouds with all their weight
Of waters to old Nile’s majestic tide;
Or o’er the dark, sepulchral plain
Recallest Carthage in her ancient pride,
The mistress of the Main;
Hear, Genius, hear thy children’s cry!
Not always shouldst thou love to brood
Stern o’er the desert solitude
Where seas of sand heave their hot surges high;
Nor, Genius, should the midnight song
Detain thee in some milder mood
The palmy plains among,
Where Gambia to the torches’ light
Flows radiant through the awaken’d night.

Ah, linger not to hear the song!
Genius, avenge thy children’s wrong!
The demon Avarice on your shore
Brings all the horrors of his train;
And hark! where from the field of gore
Howls the hyena o’er the slain!
Lo! where the flaming village fires the skies,
Avenging Power, awake! arise!

Arise, thy children’s wrongs redress!
Heed the mother’s wretchedness,
When in the hot, infectious air
O’er her sick babe she bows opprest, —
Hear her when the Traders tear
The suffering infant from her breast!
Sunk in the ocean he shall rest!
Hear thou the wretched mother’s cries,
Avenging Power! awake! arise!

By the rank, infected air
That taints those cabins of despair;
By the scourges blacken’d o’er,
And stiff and hard with human gore
By every groan of deep distress,
By every curse of wretchedness;
The vices and the crimes that flow
From the hopelessness of woe;
By every drop of blood bespilt,
By Afric’s wrongs and Europe’s guilt,
Awake! arise! avenge!

And thou hast heard! and o’er their blood-fed plains
Sent thine avenging hurricanes,
And bade thy storms with whirlwind roar
Dash their proud navies on the shore;
And where their armies claim d the fight
Wither’d the warrior’s might;
And o’er the unholy host, with baneful breath,
There, Genius, thou hast breathed the gales of Death.

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