The Story of John Brown

You can listen to the music I was listening to when I wrote this poem if you like. Click here. The music will open in a separate window and you can return to this page.

Thomas C. Hovenden, “The Last Moments of John Brown”

The Story of John Brown

He is out of bounds now. – Robert Lowell: For the Union Dead

John Brown came down to Harper’s Ferry
And murder was in his eye
He was what they called back then
One of the killing gentlemen.

But Hickock was a deputy
And the Wild Bunch robbed and stole
But John Brown kilt for the Mystery
And to save the white man’s soul.

Guy like that gets busy
And gets a notion in his head
Ain’t no turnin’ him from infamy
And he will likely wind up dead.

But here is what is funny,
And here is what is strange
He didn’t do it for the money
He didn’t do it for the Grange.

He did not do it for the Union
And not for no Constitution
In which a black man was not a man
But acurst, two thirds, a son of Ham

He did it out of Duty and Despair
Because of what said Taney
A black man’s rights are all hot air
Those his tears be hot and rainy

In Kansas, Brown had seen the son of man
Reduced to beggin’ for his life
With no pride before his children
An abject creature to his wife

Am I not a man and brother
I ain’t you I am the Other
What be I then the face of God?
How strange that is and how very odd.

So Brown he did his daring Raid
Upon the armory at Harper’s Ferry
Quite a disturbance was by him made
Although they called in the Cavalry

Yes old Jeb Stuart and Bobbie Lee
Saw that Ossawatomie
Got what he wanted, his Calvary.
They also used the infantry.

But why did he do it, you say
As the dice on the green baize play
It didn’t get him anywhere
‘Cept up in Heaven or right down there.

He did it from pure Duty
And when he went to die
Black Mama said kiss my baby
‘Fore you go to heaven in the sky.

Pard, I never seen no one like him
And I hope I won’t again
But he is a saint in heaven
For what he did for black men.

Edward G. Nilges 28 Sep 2010 amdg: revised 12 Dec 2010

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4 Responses to “The Story of John Brown”

  1. History of Capitalism Says:

    While I doubt that you are, in fact, Barry Spinoza himself, I do agree with the general sentiment that John Brown was an hero.

    • spinoza1111 Says:

      Thanks for your comment! I find Spinoza an attractive figure as have many, including Bertie Russell and after a reading of his Ethics whilst maintaining watch over a dying father I could not but adopt his name.

    • spinoza1111 Says:

      Leszek Kolakowski on the history of Marxist thought?

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