Read the following extracts from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and Elizabeth Barret Browning’s “The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point”.
[from Leaves of Grass]
Now Lucifer was not dead . . . . or if he was I am his sorrowful terrible
I have been wronged . . . . I am oppressed . . . . I hate him that.oppresses
I will either destroy him, or he shall release me.
Damn him! how he does defile me,
How he informs against my brother and sister and takes pay for their
How he laughs when I look down the bend after the steamboat that
carries away my woman.
Now the vast dusk bulk that is the whale’s bulk . . . . it seems mine,
Warily, sportsman! though I lie so sleepy and sluggish, my tap is death.
[from ‘The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point’]
I stand on the mark beside the shore
Of the first white pilgrim’s bended knee,
Where exile turned to ancestor,
And God was thanked for liberty.
I have run through the night, my skin is dark,
I bend my knee down on this mark:
I look on the sky and the sea.
O pilgrim-souls, I speak to you!
I see you come out proud and slow
From the land of the spirits pale as dew
And round me and round me ye go.
O pilgrims, I have gasped and run
All night long from the whips of one
Who in your names works sin and woe!
And thus I thought that I would come
And kneel here where Ye knelt before,
And feel your souls around me hum
In undertone to the ocean’s roar;
And lift my black face, my black hand,
Here, in your names, to curse this land
Ye blessed in freedom’s evermore.
Write a short essay in which you compare and contrast these excerpts, paying particular attention to the voice and persona of the speakers in these extracts.