Slaves No More
Back in 1979 Leon Litwack published a book called Been in the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery, which featured the poem Slaves No More. This poem was very emotional and touching to me. Litwack expressed his feelings about the abolishment of slavery and some experiences he had being a slave in this poem. I will be explaining what this poem is about, what Leon Litwack was trying to say, and why I chose this topic to write about.
First, I will explain my interpretation of what this poem was about. When I first read Slaves No More I did not understand it, so I had to re-read it a few times. At the beginning of the poem Litwack expressed his excitement and happiness of not being a slave anymore and how he will praise God for the rest of his life. In the next set of lines Litwack expresses how he use to pray to God about his problems and for him to please answer his prayers. In the third set of lines he expressed how he gave him details on what his days were like being a slave: the pain, feeling of shame, and suffering he had been through. In this same set of lines he expressed how he knew Jesus had heard him and that Jesus had let him know that he would not have to suffer for much longer.
During the fourth set of lines in this poem Leon stated how he was to gather all his people (slaves) and to bring them to Jesus and he would save them, especially the abused slaves. In the last set of lines of the poem Litwack states how he will no longer have to go through the agony of being and slave due to Jesus setting him free.
Next, I will let you know what I interpreted Leon Litwack to be stating in Slaves No More and what Litwack was trying to express throughout poem. Throughout the poem Litwack let us know that he had faith in God and prayed to him frequently; believing that God would get him out of his misery and protect him. Litwack never lost his faith in the Lord and even stated how God would respond to his prayers and gave him orders to gather other slaves and bring them to him (which basically means to have them pray to him and to have faith in him, not literally bring other slaves to meet the Lord). Leon also wanted the listeners/readers to understand the torture and torment that he and the other slaves had to go through, so he explained certain situations throughout the poem. One example he used is being stuck in a dungeon and being chained. The most important message the Litwack was trying to get across is his excitement of not being a slave anymore. By slaving being abolished he would no longer have to go through all of these horrible things, in which he listed some as stated above. He would be able to live free and do as he pleased. That filled Litwack with joy and he knew he owed Jesus all the glory.
Finally, I will be explaining to you why I chose this poem to do my essay on. I have always been interested in the history of slaves and learning more about this time period, because I know there is much more behind many of the slavery stories besides what you see on TV. Therefore, any writings that I come across regarding slavery I read. This poem was a little hard for me to understand at first due to the dialect used throughout the poem. After reading it several times I understood exactly what Litwack was trying to say. I like the facts that he gave us examples and feelings he had during his time of being a slave. In my eyes it made the poem set in my mind as reality. It also amazed me how he did not have to go into detail about his experiences, but by just merely summarizing his experiences he gave his writing the conflict.
I was also intrigued by the way he explained his relationship with God. He made the reader’s relate to him in this way, especially the ones who also put all the trust and faith in God. By Litwack putting his conversations with God in this poem it really grabbed my attention and made me understand his desperation of wanting to be free. His faith in the Lord was so strong and that made me fall in love with Litwack as a person even more. In his conversations with God he set up his plot in this poem. Leon excitement of being free at last in the beginning of the poem was a great attention grabber for me also. He set the theme of the poem early on and did so in a great way. Overall, the poem was captivating throughout the reading; which is the main reason I chose it to do my essay on.
Leon Litwack did an amazing job in writing this poem. Slaves No More was a short poem with many feelings and stories in one which was amazing. Although I had to read it several times to get the true meaning, in the end when I
figured out the meaning it was well worth it.