Song Of The Galley-Slaves


We pulled for you when the wind was against us and the sails were low.
Will you never let us go?
We ate bread and onions when you took towns, or ran aboard quickly when you were beaten back by the foe.
The Captains walked up and down the deck in fair weather singing songs, but we were below.
We fainted with our chins on the oars and you did not see that we were idle, for we still swung to and fro.
Will you never let us go?
The solt made the oar-hands like shark-skin; our knees were cut to the bone with salt-cracks; our hair was stuck to our foreheads; and our lips were cut to the gums, and you whipped us because we could not row.
Will you never let us go?
But, in a little time, we shall run out of the port-holes as the water runs along the oar-blade, and though you tell the others to row after us you will never catch us till you catch the oar-thresh and tie up the winds in the belly of the sail.
Will you never let us go?


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