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About this poet

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was born on September 24, 1825, in Baltimore, Maryland, and raised by her aunt and uncle. A poet, novelist, and journalist, she was also a prominent abolitionist and temperance and women's suffrage activist. She traveled to multiple states to lecture and give speeches about these issues. 

In May 1866, she delivered the speech, "We Are All Bound Up Together" at the National Women's Rights Convention in New York, sharing the stage with Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. "You white women speak here of rights," she said. "I speak of wrongs."

With Margaret Murray Washington, the wife of Booker T. Washington, Harriet Tubman, and other prominent African American women, she helped found the National Association of Colored Women and served as its vice president in 1897.

She authored numerous books, including the poetry collections Forest Leaves (1845) and Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects (1854), the novel Iola Leroy, or Shadows Uplifted (1892), and several short stories. Before marrying Fenton Harper, a widower, with whom she had a daughter, she worked at Union Seminary in Ohio, where she taught sewing.

She died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on February 22, 1911. 

Let the Light Enter

The dying words of Goethe.
 
"Light! more light! the shadows deepen,
   And my life is ebbing low,
Throw the windows widely open:
   Light! more light! before I go."
 
"Softly let the balmy sunshine
   Play around my dying bed,
E'er the dimly lighted valley
   I with lonely feet must tread."
 
"Light! more light! for Death is weaving
   Shadows 'round my waning sight,
And I fain would gaze upon him
   Through a stream of earthly light."
 
Not for greater gifts of genius;
   Not for thoughts more grandly bright,
All the dying poet whispers
   Is a prayer for light, more light.
 
Heeds he not the gathered laurels,
   Fading slowly from his sight;
All the poet's aspirations
   Centre in that prayer for light.

This poem is in the public domain. 

This poem is in the public domain. 

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

Frances Ellen Watkins Harper was born on September 24, 1825. She was a prominent abolitionist and temperance and women's suffrage activist, as well as a poet. 

by this poet

poem
Very soon the Yankee teachers 
    Came down and set up school; 
But, oh! how the Rebs did hate it,— 
    It was agin' their rule. 

Our masters always tried to hide 
    Book learning from our eyes; 
Knowledge didn't agree with slavery—
    'Twould make us all too wise. 

But some of us would try to steal
poem
To comfort hearts that sigh and break,
   To dry the falling tear,
Wilt thou forego the music sweet
   Entrancing now thy ear?
 
I must return, I firmly said,
   The strugglers in that sea
Shall not reach out beseeching hands
   In
poem
Make me a grave where'er you will,
In a lowly plain, or a lofty hill; 
Make it among earth's humblest graves,
But not in a land where men are slaves.

I could not rest if around my grave
I heard the steps of a trembling slave;
His shadow above my silent tomb
Would make it a place of fearful gloom.

I could not