The Morning Dream

by William Cowper

'Twas in the glad season of spring,
    Asleep at the dawn of the day,
I dream'd what I cannot but sing,
    So pleasant it seem'd as I lay.
I dream'd that on ocean afloat,
    Far hence to the westward I sail'd,
While the billows high lifted the boat,
    And the fresh blowing breeze never fail'd.

In the steerage a woman I saw,
    Such at least was the form that she wore,
Whose beauty impressed me with awe,
    Ne'er taught me by woman before:
She sat, and a shield at her side
    Shed light like a sun on the waves,
And, smiling divinely, she cried—
    "I go to make freemen of slaves."

Then, raising her voice to a strain,
    The sweetest that ear ever heard,
She sung of the slave's broken chain
    Wherever her glory appear'd.
Some clouds which had over us hung
    Fled, chas'd by her melody clear,
And methought, while she liberty sung,
    'Twas liberty only to hear.

Thus swiftly dividing the flood,
    To a slave-cultured island we came,
Where a demon, her enemy, stood,
    Oppression his terrible name:
In his hand, as a sign of his sway,
    A scourge hung with lashes he bore,
And stood looking out for his prey,
    From Africa's sorrowful shore.

But soon as, approaching the land,
    That goddess-like woman he view'd,
The scourge he let fall from his hand,
    With blood of his subjects imbrued.
I saw him both sicken and die,
    And, the moment the monster expir'd,
Heard shouts that ascended the sky,
    From thousands with rapture inspir'd.

Awaking, how could I but muse
    At what such a dream should betide,
But soon my ear caught the glad news,
    Which serv'd my weak thought for a guide—
That Britannia, renown'd o'er the waves,
    For the hatred she ever has shown
To the black-sceptred rulers of slaves,
    Resolves to have none of her own.

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