In Ocean’s wide domains,
Half buried in the sands,
Lie skeletons in chains,
With shackled feet and hands.

Beyond the fall of dews,
Deeper than plummet lies,
Float ships, with all their crews,
No more to sink nor rise.

There the black Slave-ship swims,
Freighted with human forms,
Whose fettered, fleshless limbs
Are not the sport of storms.

These are the bones of Slaves;
They gleam from the abyss;
They cry, from yawning waves,
“We are the Witnesses!”

Within Earth’s wide domains
Are markets for men’s lives;
Their necks are galled with chains,
Their wrists are cramped with gyves.

Dead bodies, that the kite
In deserts makes its prey;
Murders, that with affright
Scare school-boys from their play!

All evil thoughts and deeds;
Anger, and lust, and pride;
The foulest, rankest weeds,
That choke Life’s groaning tide!

These are the woes of Slaves;
They glare from the abyss;
They cry, from unknown graves,
“We are the Witnesses!

Analysis, meaning and summary of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem THE WITNESSES


  1. Grant Penney says:

    pretty sikk man
    good choice of words almost all had a nag. conotation

  2. Mitch Albon says:

    that poem was bomb,man, that poem was bomb

  3. Kallie Hayworth says:

    i love this poem it is awesome and amazing

  4. Nicole Morrow says:

    A very gripping poem. It haunts you, ever reminiscent of the past. Not everyone in the world at that time knew exactly how the slaves were treated, and some who did refused to believe it. The dead slaves knew it all though and wouldn’t be afraid to tell it how it was if need be.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Do you have any comments, criticism, paraphrasis or analysis of this poem that you feel would assist other visitors in understanding the meaning or the theme of this poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow better? If accepted, your analysis will be added to this page of American Poems. Together we can build a wealth of information, but it will take some discipline and determination.