This poem, Nantucket Island, 1841, is from the perspective of an audience member at the abolitionist rally on Nantucket Island in 1841, Frederick Douglass’ first speech. The speaker of the poem could be any listener in the audience, for I imagine they all reacted in a similar way. I envisioned the speaker to be an upper-class white man that cared about abolition, but did not care about Frederick Douglass (or even know who he was) prior to his speech. According to accounts, Douglass was initially very nervous and did not want to speak. As his speech continued, however, he became more confident. After this conference, he decided he wanted to become a verbal activist, and continued to give powerful speeches for the rest of his life.
Nantucket Island, 1841
Who was that man?
When he escaped the crowd,
There were palpable nerves,
Tangible fears. But when his words,
Premiered to the assembly,
I awoke. I was inspired. I knew –
This is a cause to be known.
Words so elegant! So eloquent!
Passion. Perseverance. Pride.
He presented freedom in a fashion
Of willpower and desire. Determination
Of thriving through truth
Of what is right. Progress through knowledge
Of the unknown, right where he could be.
Where we could be.
His journey is a runaway train,
Fueled by obsession.
Driving him north,