Negro's Complaint


William Cowper, 1731-1800, “Negro's Complaint,” Appalachian State University Libraries Digital Collections, accessed May 24, 2024,

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Negro's Complaint


This item is part of the I. G. Greer Folksong Collection which consists of more than 300 individual song titles and their variants as collected by Isaac Garfield Greer (1881-1967) from informants, primarily in Ashe, Wilkes and Watauga counties. The collection includes manuscripts, typescript transcriptions produced by Dr. Greer’s clerical staff, and handwritten musical notations. Songs range from traditional Child Ballads, traditional English and Scottish ballads as well as their American variants, to 19th century popular music to musical compositions of local origin.


English poetry--18th century
Retribution--Religious aspects--Christianity
Antislavery movements--Great Britain
Enslaved persons--Poetry


William Cowper, 1731-1800


W. L. Eury Appalachian Collection, Appalachian State University


Greer, I. G. (Isaac Garfield), 1881-1967







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Negroes Complaint

Forced from home and all its pleasure,
Africans coast I left forlorn,
To increase a strangers treasures,
Over the raging billows borne.
Men from England bought and sold me,
Paid my price in paltry gold,
But tho’ theirs they have enrolled me,
Minds are never to be sold.

Still in thought as free as ever,
What are England’s rights I ask,
Me from my dear delights to sever,
Me to torture me to task?
Fleecy locks, and black complexion,
Cannot forfeit nature’s claim,
Skins may differ, but affection,
Dwells in black and white the same.

Why did all creating nature,
Make the plant for which we toil?
Sighs must fan it, tears must water,
Sweat of ours must drip the soil,
Think ye ______, Iron-hearted
Lolling at your jovial boast,
Think, how many breast have smarted,
For the sweets your cane affords!

Is there, as ye sometimes tell us,
Is there one who reigns on high?
Has he bid you buy and sell us,
Speaking from his throne, the sky?
Ask him, if your knotted scourges,
Filters, blood-extorting screws,
Are the means which duty urges,
Agents of his will to use.

Hark! he answers- wild tornadoes,
Strewing yonder sea with wrecks,
Wasting towns, plantations, meadows,
Are the vain with which he speaks,
He foresung what vexations,
African sons should undergo,
Fixed their tyrants habitations,
Where his whrilwinds answer -- No.

By our blood in Africa Wasted,
before our neck received the chain,
By the miseries which we tasted,
Crossing in your barks, the main.
By our sufferings since ye bought us,
To the man-degrading mart,
All sustaining with patience, taught us,
Only by a broken heart.

Deem not our nation brutes no longer,
Until some reason ye shall find,
Worthier of regard, and stronger,
Than the colour of our kind.
Slaves of Gold! Whose sordid dealings,
Tarnish all our boasted powers,
Prove that you have human feelings,
before you proudly question ours!

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