Viktor Frankl's Man's Search for Meaning is one of the most inspiring books I have ever read. From this book I learned that in the worst possible circumstances, our spirits still have the capacity to recognize beauty and experience love, and as long as we open open to these gifts, we retain our inner freedom, however much we endure. In this poem, I wanted to show that the enslaved peoples' spirits were free -- that the beauty of ordinary things is available to everyone. Absalom's letter is scanned below. This letter also inspired the next poem, "It Must Have Been the Muscadines."
“Every Hour of the Day” This is yet another song for which I cannot find a recording. There's a niche market out there for someone. The music can be found on page 58 of Slave Songs of the United States. On this and all lyrics, I have taken some liberties with the transcriptions. While I understand that the musicologists were trying to faithfully transcribe what they heard, the diction they use is to me reminiscent of black-faced minstrel shows. If this diction had not so often been used to make a mockery of African American musicians, I would not have this discomfort with using it. I left orginal words intact when I was not sure I understood their meaning.
EVERY HOUR OF THE DAY One freezing morning I lay this body down; I will pick up my cross and follow my Lord All around my Father's throne.
1. Every hour in the day Cry holy, cry holy my Lord. Every hour in the day Cry holy, oh show me the crime I've done.
2. Every hour in the night Cry Jesus, Cry Jesus my Lord. Every hour in the night Cry Jesus, oh show me the crime I've done.