At the Portals of the Future,
Full of madness, guilt and gloom,
Stood the hateful form of Slavery,
Crying, Give, Oh! give me room–
Room to smite the earth with cursing,
Room to scatter, rend and slay,
From the trembling mother’s bosom
Room to tear her child away;
Room to trample on the manhood
Of the country far and wide;
Room to spread o’er every Eden
Slavery’s scorching lava-tide.
Pale and trembling stood the Future,
Quailing ‘neath his frown of hate,
As he grasped with bloody clutches
The great keys of Doom and Fate.
In his hand he held a banner
All festooned with blood and tears:
‘Twas a fearful ensign, woven
With the grief and wrong of years.
On his brow he wore a helmet
Decked with strange and cruel art;
Every jewel was a life-drop
Wrung from some poor broken heart.
Though her cheek was pale and anxious,
Yet, with look and brow sublime,
By the pale and trembling Future
Stood the Crisis of our time.
And from many a throbbing bosom
Came the words in fear and gloom,
Tell us, Oh! thou coming Crisis,
What shall be our country’s doom?
Shall the wings of dark destruction
Brood and hover o’er our land,
Till we trace the steps of ruin
By their blight, from strand to strand?