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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library-Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass


for miles around, reverberate with their wild songs,
revealing at once the highest joy and the deepest
sadness. They would compose and sing as they went
along, consulting neither time nor tune. The thought
that came up, came out--if not in the word, in the
sound;--and as frequently in the one as in the other.
They would sometimes sing the most pathetic senti-
ment in the most rapturous tone, and the most rap-
turous sentiment in the most pathetic tone. Into all
of their songs they would manage to weave some-
thing of the Great House Farm. Especially would
they do this, when leaving home. They would then
sing most exultingly the following words:--

"I am going away to the Great House Farm!

O, yea! O, yea! O!"
This they would sing, as a chorus, to words which to
many would seem unmeaning jargon, but which,
nevertheless, were full of meaning to themselves. I
have sometimes thought that the mere hearing of
those songs would do more to impress some minds
with the horrible character of slavery, than the read-
ing of whole volumes of philosophy on the subject
could do.

I did not, when a slave, understand the deep
meaning of those rude and apparently incoherent
songs. I was myself within the circle; so that I nei-
ther saw nor heard as those without might see and
hear. They told a tale of woe which was then al-
together beyond my feeble comprehension; they
were tones loud, long, and deep; they breathed the
prayer and complaint of souls boiling over with the
bitterest anguish. Every tone was a testimony against
slavery, and a prayer to God for deliverance from
chains. The hearing of those wild notes always de-
pressed my spirit, and filled me with ineffable sad-
ness. I have frequently found myself in tears while
hearing them. The mere recurrence to those songs,
even now, afflicts me; and while I am writing these
lines, an expression of feeling has already found its
way down my cheek. To those songs I trace my first
glimmering conception of the dehumanizing char-
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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library-Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass



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