Sunday, 23 September 2012

Poem: Slavery

by Lucy Cole

This is a poem I wrote in Year Eight whilst studying the trans-atlantic slave trade, arguably one of the largest atrocities against humanity in history. The industry began in the 16th century, transporting Africans from West and Central Africa across the Atlantic Ocean to the Americas, where they were used as free labour on huge plantations. The trans-Atlantic slave trade continued until it was finally abolished in the early nineteenth century. However, slavery itself was not ended in the United States until Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation of 1865.  

Slaves being thrown overboard (c. 1781)
(sick or dying people who would not fetch a high price as slaves were
brutally disposed of in this way by slave traders. The incident illustrated
(aboard the slave ship Zong) became particularly infamous and helped
turn public opinion against the Atlantic slave trade
(image source:

My heart ripped, torn to shreds,
At watching my family forced from their beds,
Strong hands that grasp me,
From the behind,
Strong men that pull me,
All but kind.
Children are screaming,
Brothers lie dead,
The loss of an arm,
The slash of a head.

Wheels roll beneath me,
Chains bind my feet,
The floor of a cart,
Under my seat,
My freedom is gone,
Taken away,
No longer the dancing,
No joys as I lay.

Sea waves come into view,
Foreboding and dark,
Threatening and fascinating,
Striking their mark,
Wood plank to step on,
Over the waves,
Terror that fills me,
Nothing can save,
A ship I arrive on,
A land on the sea,
Down dark decks I go to,
Beckoning me.

Whips slash around us,
Burning my skin,
Sound that surrounds me,
 A large screaming din,
Stripped naked am I,
From head to my toes,
Chains that do hold me,
My enemies, my foes.

Starvation that grips me,
Like a drowning man,
The food that equips me,
I take all I can.

 Hot hands on my neck,
Hands in my hair,
Joy that does film them,
None that I share.

Sickness spreads quickly,
Like the cold air,
Drowned all together,
Drawn to sea lair.

Treatment improves,
Confusion is clear,
Tempers are rising,
Destination is near.

The bumpy arrival,
In this new place,
One filled with riches,
One filled with lace.

Covered in oil,
From my hair to my nails,
But none can prepare me,
For what this entails,
People are staring,
Standing so close,
People are touching,
We stand morose.

Discussing is done,
Decisions are made,
 Who do I go with?
To whom am I slave?

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