Bury Me in a Free Land
- Bury Me in a Free Land
- Make me a grave where’er you will,
- In a lowly plain, or a lofty hill;
- Make it among earth’s humblest graves,
- But not in a land where men are slaves.
- I could not rest if around my grave
- I heard the steps of a trembling slave;
- His shadow above my silent tomb
- Would make it a place of fearful gloom.
- I could not rest if I heard the tread
- Of a coffle gang to the shambles led,
- And the mother’s shriek of wild despair
- Rise like a curse on the trembling air.
- I could not sleep if I saw the lash
- Drinking her blood at each fearful gash,
- And I saw her babes torn from her breast,
- Like trembling doves from their parent nest.
- I’d shudder and start if I heard the bay
- Of bloodhounds seizing their human prey,
- And I heard the captive plead in vain
- As they bound afresh his galling chain.
- If I saw young girls from their mother’s arms
- Bartered and sold for their youthful charms,
- My eye would flash with a mournful flame,
- My death-paled cheek grow red with shame.
- I would sleep, dear friends, where bloated might
- Can rob no man of his dearest right;
- My rest shall be calm in any grave
- Where none can call his brother a slave.
- I ask no monument, proud and high,
- To arrest the gaze of the passers-by;
- All that my yearning spirit craves,
- Is bury me not in a land of slaves.
This poem was recited in the film August 28: A Day in the Life of a People, which debuted at the opening of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture in 2016.
An excerpt from the poem is on a wall of the Contemplative Court, a space for reflection in the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture. The excerpt reads: "I ask no monument, proud and high to arrest the gaze of the passers-by; all that my yearning spirit craves is bury me not in a land of slaves."
- Carol Rumens (February 27, 2017). "Poem of the week: Bury Me in a Free Land by Frances EW Harper". The Guardian. Retrieved August 30, 2018.
- Davis, Rachaell (September 22, 2016). "Why Is August 28 So Special To Black People? Ava DuVernay Reveals All In New NMAAHC Film". Essence.
- Keyes, Allison (2017). ""In This Quiet Space for Contemplation, a Fountain Rains Down Calming Waters"". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved March 10, 2018.
- Gooden, Tai (August 28, 2018). "Ava Duvernay's 'August 28' Delves Into Just How Monumental That Date Is To Black History In America". Bustle.com. Retrieved August 30, 2018.
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