Thursday, December 28, 2006

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.

-- Frances Ellen Watkins, freed black woman who died circa 1920

Bury me low in valleys green
And where the milder breeze
Blows fresh along the stream,
Sings roundly in the trees -
Bury me low and let me lie
Under the wide and starry sky.
Joying to live, I joyed to die,
Bury me low and let me lie.

-- Robert Louis Stevenson

I remembered these two poems when I read this article. It seems that Franklin Graham wants his parents to be buried at his new mega-slick complex he calls the "Billy Graham Library" -- which, to IMHO sounds like a Disneyland ride. It sounds awful -- tacky, starting with the talking cow. Ugh!

Ruth Bell Graham wants to be buried at The Cove -- a work of love that she has been at for many, many years, which might be called the "real" Billy Graham Library. I suppose it's not flashy enough for Franklin's ego. Let the woman lie in death on the land she loves next to the man she loves. Please do not make their graves some sort of sicko tourist attraction!

No comments: