Date:March 21st 1862
Barnes’ poem ‘Freedom’s Anthem’ proclaims support for the emancipation of slavery, and calls upon God to “put forth thy matchless power” to support the northern States fighting in the American Civil War. The steadily alternating couplets and triplets, as well as strict use of iambic trimeter (or iambic dimeter during the refrain of “God save the slave”) serve to reinforce the musicality of the poem, allowing for easy singing of its celebration of liberation. Barnes explores the notions of a brighter future for the slaves in his images of “new stars” arising, and seeing “noon” rather than “night”, connoting new and more hopeful beginnings. Every line begins with an imperative, making it clear that the speaker is addressing God. Before directly demanding God to use his power to free the slaves, the speaker laments the suffering of women and children and the “countless woes” of Africa as a whole: “the weeping bride” and the “orphan’s tear” will be no more if God acts now, and “Haste[s] the millennial hour”, hence bringing peace to the slaves and, of course, back to Lancashire.
Katie Pitman, University of Exeter