Slave Song

(1996)
"Slave Song" is a song by composer Adolphus C. Hailstork setting a selection from Frederick Douglass's The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass.
Excerpt from Chapter 10 of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

Go on, go on, oh ships!

You are loosed from your moorings...[you] are free; [and] I am fast in my chains...a slave! You move merrily before the gentle gale, and I sadly before the bloody whip! You are freedom's swift-winged angels, that fly [a]round the world; I am confined in bands of iron! O that I were free! O, that I were on one of your gallant decks...under your protecting wing!

Go on, go on, oh ships!

...Why was I born a man...to make a brute! Why am I a slave? O God, save me...deliver me! Let me be free! [I shall not live and die as a slave.] I will not stand it. Get caught, or get clear, I'll try it...I had [rather get]...killed running as die standing.

Go on, go on, oh ships!

...Only think of it; one hundred miles straight north, and I am free!...I will take to the water. I will...walk straight through Delaware...and when I get there, I shall not be required to have a pass.

Go on, go on, oh ships! Only think of it; one hundred miles straight north, and I am free! [Shall I] try it?

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