Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sonnet 165. I

This sonnet by Robert Southey is all about the gore and hardship of slavery. The author seems to be very outraged yet saddened by the topic of slavery. His word choice is very intense and angry but also heartfelt. He uses words such as “vulture”, “ravenous”, “slaughter”, “desolating”, “anguish”, “cold-hearted” and “hell-sprung”. These words are a mixture of pain, depression and rage. In line one and then again in line five the writer proclaims, “Hold your mad hands!” He could be speaking to the wicked slave owners who carelessly beat their slaves. The author could be offering a plea bargain in order to stop such acts in order to create abolition against slavery. The author is in disgust and appalled by such behavior and acts that are taken against other humans beings. In lines 3-6 he poses questions of disbelief, “For ever must your Niger’s tainted flood roll to the ravenous shark his banquet slain?...What demon prompts to rear the arm of slaughter?” He wants to know how long until it is over and also asks who would be so crazy to actually raise the one who kills all? Robert Southey poetically describes some of the horrors of slavery as he states, “And like desolating whirlwind’s sweep, plunge ye yon bark of anguish in the deep; for the pale fiend, cold-hearted Commerce there breathes his gold-gendered pestilence afar, and calls, to share the prey, his kindred demon War." He is speaking of how the slaves have been beaten and bruised all for a little gold. The owners have no mercy or shame they are demons.

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