Elizabeth Barrett Browning: Poems

The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim's Point Analysis College

‘The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point,’ by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, is a dramatic monologue spoken through the voice of a female runaway slave. Browning was an abolitionist. In this poem, Browning deviates from the traditional values of motherhood and creates a narration where the speaker kills her child, who is a product of this oppressive system. The narrator of this poem recounts the details and circumstances under which she murders her child; the speaker depicts the extent to which slavery has dehumanized and deprived her of her maternal instincts.

The narrator’s tone imbues an overwhelming feeling of unease and eeriness in stanza XIX. The structure of the stanza reveals flaws about this mother-child relationship. First, the rhyme scheme in this stanza, ababcdb, is irregular. Although the first four lines have an alternating rhyme scheme, line 131 ends with the word ‘mother’ while line 132 ends with the word ‘child.’[1] The two words do not rhyme and hence create a jagged flow to the stanza. There is something unique about the narrator’s relationship with her child, but up to and including the phrase, ‘little feet’ (128), the nature of the relationship is unclear. The emphasis on the baby’s feet and the adjective ‘...

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