Robert Hayden

Here you will find the Long Poem Runagate Runagate of poet Robert Hayden

Runagate Runagate

Runs falls rises stumbles on from darkness into darkness 
and the darkness thicketed with shapes of terror 
and the hunters pursuing and the hounds pursuing 
and the night cold and the night long and the river 
to cross and the jack-muh-lanterns beckoning beckoning 
and blackness ahead and when shall I reach that somewhere
morning and keep on going and never turn back and keep on going


Many thousands rise and go
many thousands crossing over
                                 0 mythic North
                          0 star-shaped yonder Bible city

Some go weeping and some rejoicing 
some in coffins and some in carriages 
some in silks and some in shackles

           Rise and go or fare you well

No more auction block for me
no more driver's lash for me

    If you see my Pompey, 30 yrs of age, 
    new breeches, plain stockings, negro shoes; 
    if you see my Anna, likely young mulatto 
    branded E on the right cheek, R on the left, 
    catch them if you can and notify subscriber. 
    Catch them if you can, but it won't be easy.
    They'll dart underground when you try to catch them, 
    plunge into quicksand, whirlpools, mazes, 
    torn into scorpions when you try to catch them.

And before I'll be a slave 
I'll be buried in my grave

     North star and bonanza gold
     I'm bound for the freedom, freedom-bound 
     and oh Susyanna don't you cry for me



Rises from their anguish and their power,

                          Harriet Tubman,

                          woman of earth, whipscarred,
                          a summoning, a shining

                          Mean to be free

      And this was the way of it, brethren brethren, 
      way we journeyed from Can't to Can. 
      Moon so bright and no place to hide, 
      the cry up and the patterollers riding, 
      hound dogs belling in bladed air.
      And fear starts a-murbling, Never make it, 
      we'll never make it. Hush that now, 
      and she's turned upon us, levelled pistol 
      glinting in the moonlight:
      Dead folks can't jaybird-talk, she says; 
      you keep on going now or die, she says.

Wanted   Harriet Tubman   alias The General 
alias Moses   Stealer of Slaves

In league with Garrison   Alcott   Emerson 
Garrett   Douglass   Thoreau   John Brown
Armed and known to be Dangerous 

Wanted   Reward   Dead or Alive

      Tell me, Ezekiel, oh tell me do you see 
      mailed Jehovah coming to deliver me?

Hoot-owl calling in the ghosted air, 
five times calling to the hants in the air. 
Shadow of a face in the scary leaves, 
shadow of a voice in the talking leaves: