James Monroe Whitfield

Yes! Strike Again That Sounding String

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Yes! strike again that sounding string,
And let the wildest numbers roll;
Thy song of fiercest passion sing --
It breathes responsive to my soul!


A soul, whose gentlest hours were nursed,
In stern adversity's dark way,
And o'er whose pathway never burst
One gleam of hope's enlivening ray.


If thou wouldst soothe my burning brain,
Sing not to me of joy and gladness;
'T will but increase the raging pain,
And turn the fever into madness.


Sing not to me of landscapes bright,
Of fragrant flowers and fruitful trees --
Of azure skies and mellow light,
Or whisperings of the gentle breeze;


But tell me of the tempest roaring
Across the angry foaming deep,
Or torrents from the mountains pouring
Down precipices dark and steep.


Sing of the lightning's lurid flash,
The ocean's roar, the howling storm,
The earthquake's shock, the thunder's crash,
Where ghastly terrors teeming swarm.


Sing of the battle's deadly strife,
The ruthless march of war and pillage,
The awful waste of human life,
The plundered town, the burning village!


Of streets with human gore made red,
Of priests upon the altar slain;
The scenes of rapine, woe and dread,
That fill the warrior's horrid train.


Thy song may then an echo wake,
Deep in this soul, long crushed and sad,
The direful impressions shake
Which threaten now to drive it mad.

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James Monroe Whitfield