Antebellum Blues

It’s true that there’s a lot more to the Southern side of the story than I’ll cover in this poem.  But, with respect to American history, I would be amiss if I failed to cover this.

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Antebellum Blues
by Michael Doyle

The South was different from the start
Agrarian in its nature to its very heart
With a favorable climate for almost year round
Blessed with richness and fertility in its ground

Eli Whitney's cotton gin made cotton king
Exported for all cash it would bring
This Antebellum period was prime for slavery
And brought the near ruin of American history

Strikingly bi-racial in its black and white
A dividing line as stark as day and night
Yet, very few whites owned plantations
Still the system was staked in this domination

The beauty of Southern culture abided this brutality
In such as way as to almost defy sensibility
The puzzle of ugliness amidst noble piety
Was and is a horror tale of crass enormity

The role of King Cotton would raise the textile industry
So much so that it was seen as unbeatable by the punditry
This then was that pride that comes before the fall
It might have been best had the South simply recalled

This set the region on a collision course with history
In losing and then having thin disdain for moral sensibility
There was an enormous difference in the styles of slavery
But more than can be justly reconciled with history

While the upper South kept slaves more like hired hands
Let no good heart fail to empathize and understand
That the thousands kept in the lower South were a miserable society
Having its own pecking order of cruelly inflicted hierarchy

Living in poverty and in deep fear of the master's lash
There can be no wonder why some would feel in a dash
Slave religion in all of its African enthusiasm and fundamentals
Could not provide solace needed regarding these cruel elementals

Self identifying like Puritans to the deliverance to promised land
Was very inspiring for the hopes of many a field hand
Songs of exodus to Canada came like the cries of a motherless child
Still, it could not make the strange fruit of bitterness mild

No rebellion was successful despite Haiti's example
Though Nat Turner's inspiration proved quite ample
To cause the master class an air of acknowledged terror
Take made too many afraid to bring an end to this error

Instead reflected in a heightened sense of control
Meant to ensure slave and master each knew their role
In the 1830s, Virginia debated this peculiar institution
Critical in mass, there was no real question of perpetuation

But rather how instead to work their way out
As the need was realized beyond any real doubt
Yet, with another kick of the can down the road
Virginia and the South's fate was sealed and foretold

Without an ounce of real integrity
Slavery became supported as a good for perpetuity
The order of nature was proclaimed as was society
This was impure racism faced with all sobriety

In a throwing away of character in favor of inequality
Contrasting in favor of this rather then wage slavery
Slavery was treated by McHugh as the best form of socialism
So much for the dream of America's fine idealism

In this hardening division we split our nation
A war was coming from this stark polarization
Ominous as the dark clouds of war began to gather
In truth, American history has rarely been sadder

(c) March 27, 2020  Michael Doyle
All Rights Reserved

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About alohapromisesforever

Writer, poet, musician, surfer, father of two princesses.
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