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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was an abolitionist, and along with the Transcendentalists, staunchly opposed slavery. His poem, "The Slave's Dream" is about a slave who is dreaming of his native land as he is dying in the rice fields of an American plantation. He dreams of the Niger River and the beautiful African plains where he once lived as a king. He remembers his wife and their children, recalling what it was like to kiss her and hold her. The image of the man running across the river bank like a warrior is symbolic of the freedom that the slave once had in his native land. In his memories he is as free as the animals that roam the African plains, but back in America, he has been stripped of his rights and his humanity. This is why Longfellow paints a picture of the man lying in the sand in the rice fields. He has lost his freedom and has been left to die. His only relief as he is dying are his memories of the free life he lived prior to being enslaved.
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