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Frederick Douglass' parallels with Harper's poems

When I read Douglassâ??sâ?? descriptions of the violence toward slaves my stomach literally churned and I was sickened. Prior to this book I had never read anything as graphically repulsive as when Douglass described the whipping of Aunt Hester. In the past when I would reflect on slavery, my focus would mostly be on the lack of freedom. I did not think, or in actuality I chose not to reflect, about the extreme violence and the separation of the families. If I had heard an earlier reading when the book was first published, and I lived in a location where slavery did not exist, I might choose not to believe the narrative deeming it too extreme. If I did know that these deplorable conditions actually were taking place in the country in which I had pledge my allegiance, I would be ashamed and I would be motivated to bring about change.

1) The question that I pose is, â??How was Douglass able to lead his life and not become a bitter man?â? If it were me, I would be consumed by my bitterness even as I experienced freedom and became instrumental in helping other slaves become free.

"Eliza Harris" by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Like a fawn from the arrow, startled and wild,
A woman swept by us, bearing a child;
In her eye was the night of a settled despair,
And her brow was oâ??ershaded with anguish and care.

She was nearing the riverâ?"in reaching the brink,
She heeded no danger, she paused not to think!
For she is a motherâ?"her child is a slaveâ?"
And sheâ??ll give him his freedom, or find him a grave!

â??Twas a vision to haunt us, that innocent faceâ?"
So pale in its aspect, so fair in its grace;
As the tramp of the horse and the bay of the hound,
With the fetters that gall, were trailing the ground!

She was nerved by despair, and strengthenâ??d by woe,
As she leapâ??d oâ??er the chasms that yawnâ??d from below;
Death howlâ??d in the tempest, and ravâ??d in the blast,
But she heard not the sound till the danger was past.

Oh! how shall I speak of my proud countryâ??s shame?
Of the stains on her glory, how give them their name?
How say that her banner in mockery wavesâ?"
Her â??star-spangled bannerâ?â?"oâ??er millions of slaves?

How say that the lawless may torture and chase
A woman whose crime is the hue of her face?
How the depths of forest may echo around
With the shrieks of despair, and the bay of the hound?

With her step on the ice, and her arm on her child,
The danger was fearful, the pathway was wild;
But, aided by Heaven, she gained a free shore,
Where the friends of humanity openâ??d their door.

So fragile and lovely, so fearfully pale,
Like a lily that bends to the breath of the gale,
Save the heave of her breast, and the sway of her hair,
Youâ??d have thought her a statue of fear and despair.

In agony close to her bosom she pressâ??d
The life of her heart, the child of her breast:â?"
Oh! love from its tenderness gathering might,
Had strengthenâ??d her soul for the dangers of flight.

But sheâ??s free!â?"yes, free from the land where the slave
From the hand of oppression must rest in the grave;
Where bondage and torture, where scourges and chains
Have placâ??d on our banner indelible stains.

The bloodhounds have missâ??d the scent of her way;
The hunter is rifled and foilâ??d of his prey;
Fierce jargon and cursing, with clanking of chains,
Make sounds of strange discord on Libertyâ??s plains.

With the rapture of love and fullness of bliss,
She placâ??d on his brow a motherâ??s fond kiss:â?"
Oh! poverty, danger and death she can brave,
For the child of her love is no longer a slave!

2) With regard to Harper's poem (above), my question is this: What element in this poem is the most effective at getting its theme across to readers? How does this element achieve this?

Solution Preview

I have read many inspirational quotes by Frederick Douglas, but in my opinion, the quote that best summarizes his will to live is one of his shortest, "The soul that is within me no man can degrade."

This simple quote shows that Douglas had self respect. He understood that as long as he respected himself, he could never be brought down by other people. No matter what he endured, and no matter what horrors he saw, Frederick Douglas would remain true to himself because he ...

Solution Summary

Frederick Douglass' parallels with Harper's poems are demonstrated. Textual evidence is applied.