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These are the thoughts of a slave on the verge of freedom. His defiant stance as he sends away his work tools to the captain, is expressed forcefully in the "huh! huh! huh!".
The song is made up of three sections with a euphoric coda. Each section is more defiant than the last. In the first he sends his tools to the captain. He then runs away flying. Finally he offers (rather sarcastically) that he was crying as he left. It could have an audible stomp throughout.
The poem is called Take This Hammer and is a traditional freedom song. It is found in the book In Search of Colour Everywhere - A Collection of African-American Poetry, edited by E. Ethelbert Millerand and published by Stewart, Tabori and Chang, New York, 1994.
It is dedicated to my friend Joy, and was first performed at the NZ Choral Festival 2001 by the Selwyn College Vocal Group.
Dedicated to Joy Gribben
three sections with a euphoric coda
traditional African-American freedom song
17 Oct 2002: Performed by the One Voice Choir at Alleluia Cafe, Auckland