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The Book of American Negro Poetry by Edited by James Weldon Johnson

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None rises, singing, from your race like you.
Dark melodist, immortal, though the dew
Fell early on the bays upon your brow,
And tinged with pathos every halcyon vow
And brave endeavor. Silence o'er you threw
Flowerets of love. Or, if an envious few
Of your own people brought no garlands, how
Could Malice smite him whom the gods had crowned?
If, like the meadow-lark, your flight was low
Your flooded lyrics half the hilltops drowned;
A wide world heard you, and it loved you so
It stilled its heart to list the strains you sang,
And o'er your happy songs its plaudits rang.


O'er all my song the image of a face
Lieth, like shadow on the wild sweet flowers.
The dream, the ecstasy that prompts my powers;
The golden lyre's delights bring little grace
To bless the singer of a lowly race.
Long hath this mocked me: aye in marvelous hours,
When Hera's gardens gleamed, or Cynthia's bowers,
Or Hope's red pylons, in their far, hushed place!
But I shall dig me deeper to the gold;
Fetch water, dripping, over desert miles,
From clear Nyanzas and mysterious Niles
Of love; and sing, nor one kind act withhold.
So shall men know me, and remember long,
Nor my dark face dishonor any song.


Ever and ever anon,
After the black storm, the eternal, beauteous bow!
Brother, to rosy-painted mists that arch beyond,
Blithely I go.

My brows men laureled and my lyre
Twined with immortal ivy for one little rippling song;
My "House of Golden Leaves" they praised and "passionate fire"--
But, Friend, the way is long!

Onward and onward, up! away!
Though Fear flaunt all his banners in my face,
And my feet stumble, lo! the Orphean Day!
Forward by God's grace!

These signs are still before me: "Fear,"
"Danger," "Unprecedented," and I hear black "No"
Still thundering, and "Churl." Good Friend, I rest me here--
Then to the glittering bow!

Loometh and cometh Hate in wrath,
Mailed Wrong, swart Servitude and Shame with bitter rue,
Nathless a Negro poet's feet must tread the path
The winged god knew.

Thus, my true Brother, dream-led, I
Forefend the anathema, following the span.
I hold my head as proudly high
As any man.


One does such work as one will not,
And well each knows the right;
Though the white storm howls, or the sun is hot,
The black must serve the white.
And it's, oh, for the white man's softening flesh,
While the black man's muscles grow!
Well I know which grows the mightier,
_I_ know; full well I know.

The white man seeks the soft, fat place,
And he moves and he works by rule.
Ingenious grows the humbler race
In Oppression's prodding school.
And it's, oh, for a white man gone to seed,
While the Negro struggles so!
And I know which race develops most,
I know; yes, well I know.

The white man rides in a palace car,
And the Negro rides "Jim Crow."
To damn the other with bolt and bar,
One creepeth so low; so low!
And it's, oh, for a master's nose in the mire,
While the humbled hearts o'erflow!
Well I know whose soul grows big at this,
And whose grows small; _I know_!

The white man leases out his land,
And the Negro tills the same.
One works; one loafs and takes command;
But I know who wins the game!
And it's, oh, for the white man's shrinking soil,
As the black's rich acres grow!
Well I know how the signs point out at last,
I know; ah, well I know!

The white man votes for his color's sake,
While the black, for his is barred;
(Though "ignorance" is the charge they make),
But the black man studies hard.
And it's, oh, for the white man's sad neglect,
For the power of his light let go!
So, I know which man must win at last,
I know! Ah, Friend, I know!


Dey was hard times jes fo' Christmas round our neighborhood one year;
So we held a secret meetin', whah de white folks couldn't hear,
To 'scuss de situation, an' to see what could be done
Towa'd a fust-class Christmas dinneh an' a little Christmas fun.

Rufus Green, who called de meetin', ris an' said: "In dis here town,
An' throughout de land, de white folks is a-tryin' to keep us down."
S' 'e: "Dey's bought us, sold us, beat us; now dey 'buse us 'ca'se we's
But when dey tetch my stomach, dey's done gone too fur foh me!

"Is I right?" "You sho is, Rufus!" roared a dozen hungry throats.
"Ef you'd keep a mule a-wo'kin', don't you tamper wid his oats.
Dat's sense," continued Rufus. "But dese white folks nowadays
Has done got so close and stingy you can't live on what dey pays.

"Here 'tis Christmas-time, an', folkses, I's indignant 'nough to choke.
Whah's our Christmas dinneh comin' when we's 'mos' completely broke?
I can't hahdly 'fo'd a toothpick an' a glass o' water. Mad?
Say, I'm desp'ret! Dey jes better treat me nice, dese white folks had!"

Well, dey 'bused de white folks scan'lous, till old Pappy Simmons ris,
Leanin' on his cane to s'pote him, on account his rheumatis',
An' s' 'e: "Chilun, whut's dat wintry wind a-sighin' th'ough de street
'Bout yo' wasted summeh wages? But, no matter, we mus' eat.

"Now, I seed a beau'ful tuhkey on a certain gemmun's fahm.
He's a-growin' fat an' sassy, an' a-struttin' to a chahm.
Chickens, sheeps, hogs, sweet pertaters--all de craps is fine dis year;
All we needs is a committee foh to tote de goodies here."

Well, we lit right in an' voted dat it was a gran idee,
An' de dinneh we had Christmas was worth trabblin' miles to see;
An' we eat a full an' plenty, big an' little, great an' small,
Not beca'se we was dishonest, but indignant, sah. Dat's all.


So oft our hearts, beloved lute,
In blossomy haunts of song are mute;
So long we pore, 'mid murmurings dull,
O'er loveliness unutterable.
So vain is all our passion strong!
The dream is lovelier than the song.

The rose thought, touched by words, doth turn
Wan ashes. Still, from memory's urn,
The lingering blossoms tenderly
Refute our wilding minstrelsy.
Alas! we work but beauty's wrong!
The dream is lovelier than the song.

Yearned Shelley o'er the golden flame?
Left Keats for beauty's lure, a name
But "writ in water"? Woe is me!
To grieve o'er flowerful faery.
My Phasian doves are flown so long--
The dream is lovelier than the song!

Ah, though we build a bower of dawn,
The golden-winged bird is gone,
And morn may gild, through shimmering leaves,
Only the swallow-twittering eaves.
What art may house or gold prolong
A dream far lovelier than a song?

The lilting witchery, the unrest
Of winged dreams, is in our breast;
But ever dear Fulfilment's eyes
Gaze otherward. The long-sought prize,
My lute, must to the gods belong.
The dream is lovelier than the song.

Daniel Webster Davis


O, de birds ar' sweetly singin',
'Weh down Souf,
An' de banjer is a-ringin',
'Weh down Souf;
An' my heart it is a-sighin',
Whil' de moments am a-flyin',
Fur my hom' I am a-cryin',
'Weh down Souf.

Dar de pickaninnies 's playin',
'Weh down Souf,
An' fur dem I am a-prayin',
'Weh down Souf;
An' when I gits sum munny,
Yo' kin bet I'm goin', my hunny,
Fur de lan' dat am so sunny,
'Weh down Souf.

Whil' de win' up here's a-blowin',
'Weh down Souf
De corn is sweetly growin',
'Weh down Souf.
Dey tells me here ub freedum,
But I ain't a-gwine to heed um,
But I'se gwine fur to lebe um,
Fur 'weh down Souf.

I bin up here a-wuckin',
From 'weh down Souf,
An' I ain't a bin a-shurkin'--
I'm frum 'weh down Souf;
But I'm gittin' mighty werry,
An' de days a-gittin' drerry,
An' I'm hongry, O, so berry,
Fur my hom' down Souf.

O, de moon dar shines de brighter,
'Weh down Souf,
An' I know my heart is lighter,
'Weh down Souf;
An' de berry thought brings pledjur,
I'll be happy dar 'dout medjur,
Fur dar I hab my tredjur,
'Weh down Souf.


Deze eatin' folks may tell me ub de gloriz ub spring lam',
An' de toofsumnis ub tuckey et wid cel'ry an' wid jam;
Ub beef-st'ak fried wid unyuns, an' sezoned up so fine--
But you' jes' kin gimme hog-meat, an' I'm happy all de time.

When de fros' is on de pun'kin an' de sno'-flakes in de ar',
I den begin rejoicin'--hog-killin' time is near;
An' de vizhuns ub de fucher den fill my nightly dreams,
Fur de time is fas' a-comin' fur de 'lishus pork an' beans.

We folks dat's frum de kuntry may be behin' de sun--
We don't like city eatin's, wid beefsteaks dat ain' done--
'Dough mutton chops is splendid, an' dem veal cutlits fine,
To me 'tain't like a sphar-rib, or gret big chunk ub chine.

Jes' talk to me 'bout hog-meat, ef yo' want to see me pleased,
Fur biled wid beans tiz gor'jus, or made in hog-head cheese;
An' I could jes' be happy, 'dout money, cloze or house,
Wid plenty yurz an' pig feet made in ol'-fashun "souse."

I 'fess I'm only humun, I hab my joys an' cares--
Sum days de clouds hang hebby, sum days de skies ar' fair;
But I forgib my in'miz, my heart is free frum hate,
When my bread is filled wid cracklins an' dar's chidlins on my plate.

'Dough 'possum meat is glo'yus wid 'taters in de pan,
But put 'longside pork sassage it takes a backward stan';
Ub all yer fancy eatin's, jes gib to me fur mine
Sum souse or pork or chidlins, sum sphar-rib, or de chine.

William H.A. Moore


The garden is very quiet to-night,
The dusk has gone with the Evening Star,
And out on the bay a lone ship light
Makes a silver pathway over the bar
Where the sea sings low.

I follow the light with an earnest eye,
Creeping along to the thick far-away,
Until it fell in the depths of the deep, dark sky
With the haunting dream of the dusk of day
And its lovely glow.

Long nights, long nights and the whisperings of new ones,
Flame the line of the pathway down to the sea
With the halo of new dreams and the hallow of old ones,
And they bring magic light to my love reverie
And a lover's regret.

Tender sorrow for loss of a soft murmured word,
Tender measure of doubt in a faint, aching heart,
Tender listening for wind-songs in the tree heights heard
When you and I were of the dusks a part,
Are with me yet.

I pray for faith to the noble spirit of Space,
I sound the cosmic depths for the measure of glory
Which will bring to this earth the imperishable race
Of whom Beauty dreamed in the soul-toned story
The Prophets told.

Silence and love and deep wonder of stars
Dust-silver the heavens from west to east,
From south to north, and in a maze of bars
Invisible I wander far from the feast
As night grows old.

Half blind is my vision I know to the truth,
My ears are half deaf to the voice of the tear
That touches the silences as Autumn's ruth
Steals thru the dusks of each returning year
A goodly friend.

The Autumn, then Winter and wintertime's grief!
But the weight of the snow is the glistening gift
Which loving brings to the rose and its leaf,
For the days of the roses glow in the drift
And never end.

* * * * *

The moon has come. Wan and pallid is she.
The spell of half memories, the touch of half tears,
And the wounds of worn passions she brings to me
With all the tremor of the far-off years
And their mad wrong.

Yet the garden is very quiet to-night,
The dusk has long gone with the Evening Star,
And out on the bay the moon's wan light
Lays a silver pathway beyond the bar,
Dear heart, pale and long.


It was not fate which overtook me,
Rather a wayward, wilful wind
That blew hot for awhile
And then, as the even shadows came, blew cold.
What pity it is that a man grown old in life's dreaming
Should stop, e'en for a moment, to look into a woman's eyes.
And I forgot!
Forgot that one's heart must be steeled against the east wind.
Life and death alike come out of the East:
Life as tender as young grass,
Death as dreadful as the sight of clotted blood.
I shall go back into the darkness,
Not to dream but to seek the light again.
I shall go by paths, mayhap,
On roads that wind around the foothills
Where the plains are bare and wild
And the passers-by come few and far between.
I want the night to be long, the moon blind,
The hills thick with moving memories,
And my heart beating a breathless requiem
For all the dead days I have lived.
When the Dawn comes--Dawn, deathless, dreaming--
I shall will that my soul must be cleansed of hate,
I shall pray for strength to hold children close to my heart,
I shall desire to build houses where the poor will know shelter, comfort,
And then may I look into a woman's eyes
And find holiness, love and the peace which passeth understanding.

W.E. Burghardt Du Bois


Done at Atlanta, in the Day of Death, 1906

O Silent God, Thou whose voice afar in mist and mystery hath left our ears
an-hungered in these fearful days--
_Hear us, good Lord!_

Listen to us, Thy children: our faces dark with doubt are made a mockery
in Thy sanctuary. With uplifted hands we front Thy heaven, O God, crying:
_We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord!_

We are not better than our fellows, Lord, we are but weak and human men.
When our devils do deviltry, curse Thou the doer and the deed: curse them
as we curse them, do to them all and more than ever they have done to
innocence and weakness, to womanhood and home.
_Have mercy upon us, miserable sinners!_

And yet whose is the deeper guilt? Who made these devils? Who nursed them
in crime and fed them on injustice? Who ravished and debauched their
mothers and their grandmothers? Who bought and sold their crime, and waxed
fat and rich on public iniquity?
_Thou knowest, good God!_

Is this Thy justice, O Father, that guile be easier than innocence, and
the innocent crucified for the guilt of the untouched guilty?
_Justice, O judge of men!_

Wherefore do we pray? Is not the God of the fathers dead? Have not seers
seen in Heaven's halls Thine hearsed and lifeless form stark amidst the
black and rolling smoke of sin, where all along bow bitter forms of
endless dead?
_Awake, Thou that sleepest!_

Thou art not dead, but flown afar, up hills of endless light, thru blazing
corridors of suns, where worlds do swing of good and gentle men, of women
strong and free--far from the cozenage, black hypocrisy and chaste
prostitution of this shameful speck of dust!
_Turn again, O Lord, leave us not to perish in our sin!_

From lust of body and lust of blood
_Great God, deliver us!_

From lust of power and lust of gold,
_Great God, deliver us!_

From the leagued lying of despot and of brute,
_Great God, deliver us!_

A city lay in travail, God our Lord, and from her loins sprang twin Murder
and Black Hate. Red was the midnight; clang, crack and cry of death and
fury filled the air and trembled underneath the stars when church spires
pointed silently to Thee. And all this was to sate the greed of greedy men
who hide behind the veil of vengeance!
_Bend us Thine ear, O Lord!_

In the pale, still morning we looked upon the deed. We stopped our ears
and held our leaping hands, but they--did they not wag their heads and
leer and cry with bloody jaws: _Cease from Crime_! The word was
mockery, for thus they train a hundred crimes while we do cure one.
_Turn again our captivity, O Lord!_

Behold this maimed and broken thing; dear God, it was an humble black man
who toiled and sweat to save a bit from the pittance paid him. They told
him: _Work and Rise_. He worked. Did this man sin? Nay, but some one
told how some one said another did--one whom he had never seen nor known.
Yet for that man's crime this man lieth maimed and murdered, his wife
naked to shame, his children, to poverty and evil.
_Hear us, O Heavenly Father!_

Doth not this justice of hell stink in Thy nostrils, O God? How long shall
the mounting flood of innocent blood roar in Thine ears and pound in our
hearts for vengeance? Pile the pale frenzy of blood-crazed brutes who do
such deeds high on Thine altar, Jehovah Jireh, and burn it in hell forever
and forever!
_Forgive us, good Lord; we know not what we say!_

Bewildered we are, and passion-tost, mad with the madness of a mobbed and
mocked and murdered people; straining at the armposts of Thy Throne, we
raise our shackled hands and charge Thee, God, by the bones of our stolen
fathers, by the tears of our dead mothers, by the very blood of Thy
crucified Christ: _What meaneth this?_ Tell us the Plan; give us the
_Keep not thou silence, O God!_

Sit no longer blind, Lord God, deaf to our prayer and dumb to our dumb
suffering. Surely Thou too art not white, O Lord, a pale, bloodless,
heartless thing?
_Ah! Christ of all the Pities!_

Forgive the thought! Forgive these wild, blasphemous words. Thou art still
the God of our black fathers, and in Thy soul's soul sit some soft
darkenings of the evening, some shadowings of the velvet night.

But whisper--speak--call, great God, for Thy silence is white terror to
our hearts! The way, O God, show us the way and point us the path.

Whither? North is greed and South is blood; within, the coward, and
without, the liar. Whither? To death?
_Amen! Welcome dark sleep!_

Whither? To life? But not this life, dear God, not this. Let the cup pass
from us, tempt us not beyond our strength, for there is that clamoring and
clawing within, to whose voice we would not listen, yet shudder lest we
must, and it is red, Ah! God! It is a red and awful shape.

In yonder East trembles a star.
_Vengeance is mine; I mill repay, saith the Lord!_

Thy will, O Lord, be done!
_Kyrie Eleison!_

Lord, we have done these pleading, wavering words.
_We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord!_

We bow our heads and hearken soft to the sobbing of women and little
_We beseech Thee to hear us, good Lord!_

Our voices sink in silence and in night.
_Hear us, good Lord!_

In night, O God of a godless land!

In silence, O Silent God.

George Marion McClellan


To dreamy languors and the violet mist
Of early Spring, the deep sequestered vale
Gives first her paling-blue Miamimist,
Where blithely pours the cuckoo's annual tale
Of Summer promises and tender green,
Of a new life and beauty yet unseen.
The forest trees have yet a sighing mouth,
Where dying winds of March their branches swing,
While upward from the dreamy, sunny South,
A hand invisible leads on the Spring.

His rounds from bloom to bloom the bee begins
With flying song, and cowslip wine he sups,
Where to the warm and passing southern winds,
Azaleas gently swing their yellow cups.
Soon everywhere, with glory through and through,
The fields will spread with every brilliant hue.
But high o'er all the early floral train,
Where softness all the arching sky resumes,
The dogwood dancing to the winds' refrain,
In stainless glory spreads its snowy blooms.


What dost thou here, thou shining, sinless thing,
With many colored hues and shapely wing?
Why quit the open field and summer air
To flutter here? Thou hast no need of prayer.

'Tis meet that we, who this great structure built,
Should come to be redeemed and washed from guilt,
For we this gilded edifice within
Are come, with erring hearts and stains of sin.

But thou art free from guilt as God on high;
Go, seek the blooming waste and open sky,
And leave us here our secret woes to bear,
Confessionals and agonies of prayer.


Sewanee Hills of dear delight,
Prompting my dreams that used to be,
I know you are waiting me still to-night
By the Unika Range of Tennessee.

The blinking stars in endless space,
The broad moonlight and silvery gleams,
To-night caress your wind-swept face,
And fold you in a thousand dreams.

Your far outlines, less seen than felt,
Which wind with hill propensities,
In moonlight dreams I see you melt
Away in vague immensities.

And, far away, I still can feel
Your mystery that ever speaks
Of vanished things, as shadows steal
Across your breast and rugged peaks.

O, dear blue hills, that lie apart,
And wait so patiently down there,
Your peace takes hold upon my heart
And makes its burden less to bear.


Christ washed the feet of Judas!
The dark and evil passions of his soul,
His secret plot, and sordidness complete,
His hate, his purposing, Christ knew the whole,
And still in love he stooped and washed his feet.

Christ washed the feet of Judas!
Yet all his lurking sin was bare to him,
His bargain with the priest, and more than this,
In Olivet, beneath the moonlight dim,
Aforehand knew and felt his treacherous kiss.

Christ washed the feet of Judas!
And so ineffable his love 'twas meet,
That pity fill his great forgiving heart,
And tenderly to wash the traitor's feet,
Who in his Lord had basely sold his part.

Christ washed the feet of Judas!
And thus a girded servant, self-abased,
Taught that no wrong this side the gate of heaven
Was ever too great to wholly be effaced,
And though unasked, in spirit be forgiven.

And so if we have ever felt the wrong
Of Trampled rights, of caste, it matters not,
What e'er the soul has felt or suffered long,
Oh, heart! this one thing should not be forgot:
Christ washed the feet of Judas.

William Stanley Braithwaite


Sandy Star and Willie Gee,
Count 'em two, you make 'em three:
Pluck the man and boy apart
And you'll see into my heart.



_Sculptured Worship_

The zones of warmth around his heart,
No alien airs had crossed;
But he awoke one morn to feel
The magic numbness of autumnal frost.

His thoughts were a loose skein of threads,
And tangled emotions, vague and dim;
And sacrificing what he loved
He lost the dearest part of him.

In sculptured worship now he lives,
His one desire a prisoned ache;
If he can never melt again
His very heart will break.


_Laughing It Out_

He had a whim and laughed it out
Upon the exit of a chance;
He floundered in a sea of doubt--
If life was real--or just romance.

Sometimes upon his brow would come
A little pucker of defiance;
He totalled in a word the sum
Of all man made of facts and science.

And then a hearty laugh would break,
A reassuring shrug of shoulder;
And we would from his fancy take
A faith in death which made life bolder.



No, his exit by the gate
Will not leave the wind ajar;
He will go when it is late
With a misty star.

One will call, he cannot see;
One will call, he will not hear;
He will take no company
Nor a hope or fear.

We shall smile who loved him so--
They who gave him hate will weep;
But for us the winds will blow
Pulsing through his sleep.


_The Way_

He could not tell the way he came,
Because his chart was lost:
Yet all his way was paved with flame
From the bourne he crossed.

He did not know the way to go,
Because he had no map:
He followed where the winds blow,--
And the April sap.

He never knew upon his brow
The secret that he bore,--
And laughs away the mystery now
The dark's at his door.


_Onus Probandi_

No more from out the sunset,
No more across the foam,
No more across the windy hills
Will Sandy Star come home.

He went away to search it
With a curse upon his tongue:
And in his hand the staff of life,
Made music as it swung.

I wonder if he found it,
And knows the mystery now--
Our Sandy Star who went away,
With the secret on his brow.


Del Cascar, Del Cascar,
Stood upon a flaming star,
Stood, and let his feet hang down
Till in China the toes turned brown.

And he reached his fingers over
The rim of the sea, like sails from Dover,
And caught a Mandarin at prayer,
And tickled his nose in Orion's hair.

The sun went down through crimson bars,
And left his blind face battered with stars--
But the brown toes in China kept
Hot the tears Del Cascar wept.


Turn me to my yellow leaves,
I am better satisfied;
There is something in me grieves--
That was never born, and died.
Let me be a scarlet flame
On a windy autumn morn,
I who never had a name,
Nor from breathing image born.
From the margin let me fall
Where the farthest stars sink down,
And the void consumes me,--all
In nothingness to drown.
Let me dream my dream entire,
Withered as an autumn leaf--
Let me have my vain desire,
Vain--as it is brief.


There are no hollows any more
Between the mountains; the prairie floor
Is like a curtain with the drape
Of the winds' invisible shape;
And nowhere seen and nowhere heard
The sea's quiet as a sleeping bird.

Now we're traveling, what holds back
Arrival, in the very track
Where the urge put forth; so we stay
And move a thousand miles a day.
Time's a Fancy ringing bells
Whose meaning, charlatan history, tells!


I kissed a kiss in youth
Upon a dead man's brow;
And that was long ago,--
And I'm a grown man now.

It's lain there in the dust,
Thirty years and more;--
My lips that set a light
At a dead man's door.


Heart free, hand free,
Blue above, brown under,
All the world to me
Is a place of wonder.
Sun shine, moon shine,
Stars, and winds a-blowing,
All into this heart of mine
Flowing, flowing, flowing!

Mind free, step free,
Days to follow after,
Joys of life sold to me
For the price of laughter.
Girl's love, man's love,
Love of work and duty,
Just a will of God's to prove
Beauty, beauty, beauty!


I am glad daylong for the gift of song,
For time and change and sorrow;
For the sunset wings and the world-end things
Which hang on the edge of to-morrow.
I am glad for my heart whose gates apart
Are the entrance-place of wonders,
Where dreams come in from the rush and din
Like sheep from the rains and thunders.

George Reginald Margetson


_Part I_

I'm out to find the new, the modern school,
Where Science trains the fledgling bard to fly,
Where critics teach the ignorant, the fool,
To write the stuff the editors would buy;
It matters not e'en tho it be a lie,--
Just so it aims to smash tradition's crown
And build up one instead decked with a new renown.

A thought is haunting me by night and day,
And in some safe archive I seek to lay it;
I have some startling thing I wish to say,
And they can put me wise just how to say it.
Without their aid, I, like the ass, must bray it,
Without due knowledge of its mood and tense,
And so 'tis sure to fail the bard to recompense.

Will some kind one direct me to that college
Where every budding genius now is headed,
The only source to gain poetic knowledge,
Where all the sacred truths lay deep imbedded,
Where nothing but the genuine goods are shredded,--
The factory where they shape new feet and meters
That make poetic symbols sound like carpet beaters.

* * * * *

I hope I'll be an eligible student,
E'en tho I am no poet in a sense,
But just a hot-head youth with ways imprudent,--
A rustic ranting rhymer like by chance
Who thinks that he can make the muses dance
By beating on some poet's borrowed lyre,
To win some fool's applause and please his own desire.

Perhaps they'll never know or e'en suspect
That I am not a true, a genuine poet;
If in the poet's colors I am decked
They may not ask me e'er to prove or show it.
I'll play the wise old cock, nor try to crow it,
But be content to gaze with open mind;
I'll never show the lead but eye things from behind.

* * * * *

_Part II_

I have a problem all alone to solve,
A problem how to find the poetry club,
It makes my sky piece like a top revolve,
For fear that they might mark me for a snob.
They'll call me poetry monger and then dub
Me rustic rhymer, anything they choose,
Ay, anything at all, but heaven's immortal muse.

Great Byron, when he published his Childe book,
In which he sang of all his lovely dears,
Called forth hot condemnation and cold look,
From lesser mortals who were not his peers.
They chided him for telling his affairs,
Because they could not tell their own so well,
They plagued the poet lord and made his life a hell.

They called him lewd, vile drunkard, vicious wight,
And all because he dared to tell the truth,
Because he was no cursed hermaphrodite,--
A full fledged genius with the fire of youth.
They hounded him, they hammered him forsooth;
Because he blended human with divine,
They branded him "the bard of women and of wine."

Of course I soak the booze once in a while,
But I don't wake the town to sing and shout it;
I love the girls, they win me with a smile,
But no one knows, for I won't write about it.
And so the fools may never think to doubt it,
When I declare I am a moral man,
As gifted, yet as good as God did ever plan.

* * * * *

Every man has got a hobby,
Every poet has some fault,
Every sweet contains its bitter,
Every fresh thing has its salt.

Every mountain has a valley,
Every valley has a hill,
Every ravine is a river,
Every river is a rill.

Every fool has got some wisdom,
Every wise man is a fool,
Every scholar is a block-head,
Every dunce has been to school.

Every bad man is a good man,
Every fat man is not stout,
Every good man is a bad man
But 'tis hard to find him out.

Every strong man is a weak man,
You may doubt it as you please,
Every well man is a sick man,
Every doctor has disease.

James Weldon Johnson


O black and unknown bards of long ago,
How came your lips to touch the sacred fire?
How, in your darkness, did you come to know
The power and beauty of the minstrel's lyre?
Who first from midst his bonds lifted his eyes?
Who first from out the still watch, lone and long,
Feeling the ancient faith of prophets rise
Within his dark-kept soul, burst into song?

Heart of what slave poured out such melody
As "Steal away to Jesus"? On its strains
His spirit must have nightly floated free,
Though still about his hands he felt his chains.
Who heard great "Jordan roll"? Whose starward eye
Saw chariot "swing low"? And who was he
That breathed that comforting, melodic sigh,
"Nobody knows de trouble I see"?

What merely living clod, what captive thing,
Could up toward God through all its darkness grope,
And find within its deadened heart to sing
These songs of sorrow, love and faith, and hope?
How did it catch that subtle undertone,
That note in music heard not with the ears?
How sound the elusive reed so seldom blown,
Which stirs the soul or melts the heart to tears.

Not that great German master in his dream
Of harmonies that thundered amongst the stars
At the creation, ever heard a theme
Nobler than "Go down, Moses." Mark its bars
How like a mighty trumpet-call they stir
The blood. Such are the notes that men have sung
Going to valorous deeds; such tones there were
That helped make history when Time was young.

There is a wide, wide wonder in it all,
That from degraded rest and servile toil
The fiery spirit of the seer should call
These simple children of the sun and soil.
O black slave singers, gone, forgot, unfamed,
You--you alone, of all the long, long line
Of those who've sung untaught, unknown, unnamed,
Have stretched out upward, seeking the divine.

You sang not deeds of heroes or of kings;
No chant of bloody war, no exulting pean
Of arms-won triumphs; but your humble strings
You touched in chord with music empyrean.
You sang far better than you knew; the songs
That for your listeners' hungry hearts sufficed
Still live,--but more than this to you belongs:
You sang a race from wood and stone to Christ.


Seems lak to me de stars don't shine so bright,
Seems lak to me de sun done loss his light,
Seems lak to me der's nothin' goin' right,
Sence you went away.

Seems lak to me de sky ain't half so blue,
Seems lak to me dat ev'ything wants you,
Seems lak to me I don't know what to do,
Sence you went away.

Seems lak to me dat ev'ything is wrong,
Seems lak to me de day's jes twice es long,
Seems lak to me de bird's forgot his song,
Sence you went away.

Seems lak to me I jes can't he'p but sigh,
Seems lak to me ma th'oat keeps gittin' dry,
Seems lak to me a tear stays in ma eye,
Sence you went away.


(_A Negro Sermon_)

And God stepped out on space,
And He looked around and said,
_"I'm lonely--
I'll make me a world."_

And far as the eye of God could see
Darkness covered everything,
Blacker than a hundred midnights
Down in a cypress swamp.

Then God smiled,
And the light broke,
And the darkness rolled up on one side,
And the light stood shining on the other,
And God said, _"That's good!"_

Then God reached out and took the light in His hands,
And God rolled the light around in His hands
Until He made the sun;
And He set that sun a-blazing in the heavens.
And the light that was left from making the sun
God gathered it up in a shining ball
And flung it against the darkness,
Spangling the night with the moon and stars.
Then down between
The darkness and the light
He hurled the world;
And God said, _"That's good!"_

Then God himself stepped down--
And the sun was on His right hand,
And the moon was on His left;
The stars were clustered about His head,
And the earth was under His feet.
And God walked, and where He trod
His footsteps hollowed the valleys out
And bulged the mountains up.

Then He stopped and looked and saw
That the earth was hot and barren.
So God stepped over to the edge of the world
And He spat out the seven seas;
He batted His eyes, and the lightnings flashed;
He clapped His hands, and the thunders rolled;
And the waters above the earth came down,
The cooling waters came down.

Then the green grass sprouted,
And the little red flowers blossomed,
The pine tree pointed his finger to the sky,
And the oak spread out his arms,
The lakes cuddled down in the hollows of the ground,
And the rivers ran down to the sea;
And God smiled again,
And the rainbow appeared,
And curled itself around His shoulder.

Then God raised His arm and He waved His hand
Over the sea and over the land,
And He said, _"Bring forth! Bring forth!"_
And quicker than God could drop His hand,
Fishes and fowls
And beasts and birds
Swam the rivers and the seas,
Roamed the forests and the woods,
And split the air with their wings.
And God said, _"That's good!"_

Then God walked around,
And God looked around
On all that He had made.
He looked at His sun,
And He looked at His moon,
'And He looked at His little stars;
He looked on His world
With all its living things,
And God said, _"I'm lonely still."_

Then God sat down
On the side of a hill where He could think;
By a deep, wide river He sat down;
With His head in His hands,
God thought and thought,
Till He thought, _"I'll make me a man!"_

Up from the bed of the river
God scooped the clay;
And by the bank of the river
He kneeled Him down;
And there the great God Almighty
Who lit the sun and fixed it in the sky,
Who flung the stars to the most far corner of the night,
Who rounded the earth in the middle of His hand;
This Great God,
Like a mammy bending over her baby,
Kneeled down in the dust
Toiling over a lump of clay
Till He shaped it in His own image;

Then into it He blew the breath of life,
And man became a living soul.
Amen. Amen.


O brothers mine, take care! Take care!
The great white witch rides out to-night.
Trust not your prowess nor your strength,
Your only safety lies in flight;
For in her glance there is a snare,
And in her smile there is a blight.

The great white witch you have not seen?
Then, younger brothers mine, forsooth,
Like nursery children you have looked
For ancient hag and snaggle-tooth;
But no, not so; the witch appears
In all the glowing charms of youth.

Her lips are like carnations, red,
Her face like new-born lilies, fair,
Her eyes like ocean waters, blue,
She moves with subtle grace and air,
And all about her head there floats
The golden glory of her hair.

But though she always thus appears
In form of youth and mood of mirth,
Unnumbered centuries are hers,
The infant planets saw her birth;
The child of throbbing Life is she,
Twin sister to the greedy earth.

And back behind those smiling lips,
And down within those laughing eyes,
And underneath the soft caress
Of hand and voice and purring sighs,
The shadow of the panther lurks,
The spirit of the vampire lies.

For I have seen the great white witch,
And she has led me to her lair,
And I have kissed her red, red lips
And cruel face so white and fair;
Around me she has twined her arms,
And bound me with her yellow hair.

I felt those red lips burn and sear
My body like a living coal;
Obeyed the power of those eyes
As the needle trembles to the pole;
And did not care although I felt
The strength go ebbing from my soul.

Oh! she has seen your strong young limbs,
And heard your laughter loud and gay,
And in your voices she has caught
The echo of a far-off day,
When man was closer to the earth;
And she has marked you for her prey.

She feels the old Antaean strength
In you, the great dynamic beat
Of primal passions, and she sees
In you the last besieged retreat
Of love relentless, lusty, fierce,
Love pain-ecstatic, cruel-sweet.

O, brothers mine, take care! Take care!
The great white witch rides out to-night.
O, younger brothers mine, beware!
Look not upon her beauty bright;
For in her glance there is a snare,
And in her smile there is a blight.


Eternities before the first-born day,
Or ere the first sun fledged his wings of flame,
Calm Night, the everlasting and the same,
A brooding mother over chaos lay.
And whirling suns shall blaze and then decay,
Shall run their fiery courses and then claim
The haven of the darkness whence they came;
Back to Nirvanic peace shall grope their way.

So when my feeble sun of life burns out,
And sounded is the hour for my long sleep,
I shall, full weary of the feverish light,
Welcome the darkness without fear or doubt,
And heavy-lidded, I shall softly creep
Into the quiet bosom of the Night.


O Southland! O Southland!
Have you not heard the call,
The trumpet blown, the word made known
To the nations, one and all?
The watchword, the hope-word,
Salvation's present plan?
A gospel new, for all--for you:
Man shall be saved by man.

O Southland! O Southland!
Do you not hear to-day
The mighty beat of onward feet,
And know you not their way?
'Tis forward, 'tis upward,
On to the fair white arch
Of Freedom's dome, and there is room
For each man who would march.

O Southland, fair Southland!
Then why do you still cling
To an idle age and a musty page,
To a dead and useless thing?
'Tis springtime! 'Tis work-time!
The world is young again!
And God's above, and God is love,
And men are only men.

O Southland! my Southland!
O birthland! do not shirk
The toilsome task, nor respite ask,
But gird you for the work.
Remember, remember
That weakness stalks in pride;
That he is strong who helps along
The faint one at his side.


See! There he stands; not brave, but with an air
Of sullen stupor. Mark him well! Is he
Not more like brute than man? Look in his eye!
No light is there; none, save the glint that shines
In the now glaring, and now shifting orbs
Of some wild animal caught in the hunter's trap.

How came this beast in human shape and form?
Speak, man!--We call you man because you wear
His shape--How are you thus? Are you not from
That docile, child-like, tender-hearted race
Which we have known three centuries? Not from
That more than faithful race which through three wars
Fed our dear wives and nursed our helpless babes
Without a single breach of trust? Speak out!

I am, and am not.

Then who, why are you?

I am a thing not new, I am as old
As human nature. I am that which lurks,
Ready to spring whenever a bar is loosed;
The ancient trait which fights incessantly
Against restraint, balks at the upward climb;
The weight forever seeking to obey
The law of downward pull;--and I am more:
The bitter fruit am I of planted seed;
The resultant, the inevitable end
Of evil forces and the powers of wrong.

Lessons in degradation, taught and learned,
The memories of cruel sights and deeds,
The pent-up bitterness, the unspent hate
Filtered through fifteen generations have
Sprung up and found in me sporadic life.
In me the muttered curse of dying men,
On me the stain of conquered women, and
Consuming me the fearful fires of lust,
Lit long ago, by other hands than mine.
In me the down-crushed spirit, the hurled-back prayers
Of wretches now long dead,--their dire bequests,--
In me the echo of the stifled cry
Of children for their bartered mothers' breasts.

I claim no race, no race claims me; I am
No more than human dregs; degenerate;
The monstrous offspring of the monster, Sin;
I am--just what I am. . . . The race that fed
Your wives and nursed your babes would do the same
To-day, but I--
Enough, the brute must die!
Quick! Chain him to that oak! It will resist
The fire much longer than this slender pine.
Now bring the fuel! Pile it'round him! Wait!
Pile not so fast or high! or we shall lose
The agony and terror in his face.

And now the torch! Good fuel that! the flames
Already leap head-high. Ha! hear that shriek!
And there's another! Wilder than the first.
Fetch water! Water! Pour a little on
The fire, lest it should burn too fast. Hold so!
Now let it slowly blaze again. See there!
He squirms! He groans! His eyes bulge wildly out,
Searching around in vain appeal for help!
Another shriek, the last! Watch how the flesh
Grows crisp and hangs till, turned to ash, it sifts
Down through the coils of chain that hold erect
The ghastly frame against the bark-scorched tree.

Stop! to each man no more than one man's share.
You take that bone, and you this tooth; the chain--
Let us divide its links; this skull, of course,
In fair division, to the leader comes.

And now his fiendish crime has been avenged;
Let us back to our wives and children.--Say,
What did he mean by those last muttered words,
_"Brothers in spirit, brothers in deed are we"?_


_On the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Signing of the Emancipation

O brothers mine, to-day we stand
Where half a century sweeps our ken,
Since God, through Lincoln's ready hand,
Struck off our bonds and made us men.

Just fifty years--a winter's day--
As runs the history of a race;
Yet, as we look back o'er the way,
How distant seems our starting place!

Look farther back! Three centuries!
To where a naked, shivering score,
Snatched from their haunts across the seas,
Stood, wild-eyed, on Virginia's shore.

This land is ours by right of birth,
This land is ours by right of toil;
We helped to turn its virgin earth,
Our sweat is in its fruitful soil.

Where once the tangled forest stood,--
Where flourished once rank weed and thorn,--
Behold the path-traced, peaceful wood,
The cotton white, the yellow corn.

To gain these fruits that have been earned,
To hold these fields that have been won,
Our arms have strained, our backs have burned,
Bent bare beneath a ruthless sun.

That Banner which is now the type
Of victory on field and flood--
Remember, its first crimson stripe
Was dyed by Attucks' willing blood.

And never yet has come the cry--
When that fair flag has been assailed--
For men to do, for men to die,
That we have faltered or have failed.

We've helped to bear it, rent and torn,
Through many a hot-breath'd battle breeze
Held in our hands, it has been borne
And planted far across the seas.

And never yet,--O haughty Land,
Let us, at least, for this be praised--
Has one black, treason-guided hand
Ever against that flag been raised.

Then should we speak but servile words,
Or shall we hang our heads in shame?
Stand back of new-come foreign hordes,
And fear our heritage to claim?

No! stand erect and without fear,
And for our foes let this suffice--
We've bought a rightful sonship here,
And we have more than paid the price.

And yet, my brothers, well I know
The tethered feet, the pinioned wings,
The spirit bowed beneath the blow,
The heart grown faint from wounds and stings;

The staggering force of brutish might,
That strikes and leaves us stunned and dazed;
The long, vain waiting through the night
To hear some voice for justice raised.

Full well I know the hour when hope
Sinks dead, and 'round us everywhere
Hangs stifling darkness, and we grope
With hands uplifted in despair.

Courage! Look out, beyond, and see
The far horizon's beckoning span!
Faith in your God-known destiny!
We are a part of some great plan.

Because the tongues of Garrison
And Phillips now are cold in death,
Think you their work can be undone?
Or quenched the fires lit by their breath?

Think you that John Brown's spirit stops?
That Lovejoy was but idly slain?
Or do you think those precious drops
From Lincoln's heart were shed in vain?

That for which millions prayed and sighed,
That for which tens of thousands fought,
For which so many freely died,
God cannot let it come to naught.

John Wesley Holloway


Hello dar, Miss Melerlee!
Oh, you're pretty sight to see!
Sof brown cheek, an' smilin' face,
An' willowy form chuck full o' grace--
De sweetes' gal Ah evah see,
An' Ah wush dat you would marry me!
Hello, Miss Melerlee!

Hello dar, Miss Melerlee!
You're de berry gal fo' me!
Pearly teef, an' shinin' hair,
An' silky arm so plump an' bare!
Ah lak yo' walk, Ah lak yo' clothes,
An' de way Ah love you,--goodness knows!
Hello, Miss Melerlee!

Hello dar, Miss Melerlee!
Dat's not yo' name, but it ought to be!
Ah nevah seed yo' face befo'
An' lakly won't again no mo';
But yo' sweet smile will follow me
Cla'r into eternity!
Farewell, Miss Melerlee!


Ah'm sick, doctor-man, Ah'm sick!
Gi' me some'n' to he'p me quick,
Don't,--Ah'll die!

Tried mighty hard fo' to cure mahse'f;
Tried all dem t'ings on de pantry she'f;
Couldn' fin' not'in' a-tall would do,
An' so Ah sent fo' you.

"Wha'd Ah take?" Well, le' me see:
Firs',--horhound drops an' catnip tea;
Den rock candy soaked in rum,
An' a good sized chunk o' camphor gum;
Next Ah tried was castor oil,
An' snakeroot tea brought to a boil;
Sassafras tea fo' to clean mah blood;
But none o' dem t'ings didn' do no good.
Den when home remedies seem to shirk,
Dem pantry bottles was put to work:

Blue-mass, laud'num, liver pills,
"Sixty-six, fo' fever an' chills,"
Ready Relief, an' A.B.C.,
An' half a bottle of X.Y.Z.
An' sev'al mo' Ah don't recall,
Dey nevah done no good at all.

Mah appetite begun to fail;
'Ah fo'ced some clabber, about a pail,
Fo' mah ol' gran'ma always said
When yo' can't eat you're almost dead.

So Ah got scared an' sent for you.--
Now, doctor, see what you c'n do.
Ah'm sick, doctor-man. Gawd knows Ah'm sick!
Gi' me some'n' to he'p me quick,
Don't,--Ah'll die!


Jes' beyan a clump o' pines,--
Lis'n to 'im now!--
Hyah de jolly black boy,
Singin', at his plow!
In de early mornin',
Thoo de hazy air,
Loud an' clear, sweet an' strong
Comes de music rare:

"O mah dovee, Who-ah!
Do you love me? Who-ah!
An' as 'e tu'ns de cotton row,
Hyah 'im tell 'is ol' mule so;
"Whoa! Har! Come'ere!"

Don't yo' love a co'n song?
How it stirs yo' blood!
Ever'body list'nin',
In de neighborhood!
Standin' in yo' front do'
In de misty mo'n,
Hyah de jolly black boy,
Singin' in de co'n:

"O Miss Julie, Who-ah!
Love me truly, Who-ah!
Hyah 'im scol' 'is mule so,
W'en 'e try to mek 'im go:
"Gee! Whoa! Come 'ere!"

O you jolly black boy,
Yod'lin' in de co'n,
Callin' to yo' dawlin',
In de dewy mo'n,
Love 'er, boy, forevah,
Yodel ever' day;
Only le' me lis'n,
As yo' sing away:

"O mah dawlin'! Who-ah!
Hyah me callin'! Who-ah!
Tu'n aroun' anothah row,
Holler to yo' mule so:
"Whoa! Har! Come 'ere!"


If Ah evah git to glory, an' Ah hope to mek it thoo,
Ah expec' to hyah a story, an' Ah hope you'll hyah it, too,--
Hit'll kiver Maine to Texas, an' f'om Bosting to Miami,--
Ov de highes' shaf in glory, 'rected to de Negro Mammy.

You will see a lot o' Washington, an' Washington again;
An' good ol' Fathah Lincoln, tow'rin' 'bove de rest o' men;
But dar'll be a bunch o' women standin' hard up by de th'one,
An' dey'll all be black an' homely,--'less de Virgin Mary's one.

Dey will be de talk of angels, dey will be de praise o' men,
An' de whi' folks would go crazy 'thout their Mammy folks again:
If it's r'ally true dat meekness makes you heir to all de eart',
Den our blessed, good ol' Mammies must 'a' been of noble birt'.

If de greates' is de servant, den Ah got to say o' dem,
Dey'll be standin' nex' to Jesus, sub to no one else but Him;
If de crown goes to de fait'ful, an' de palm de victors wear,
Dey'll be loaded down wid jewels more dan anybody dere.

She'd de hardes' road to trabel evah mortal had to pull;
But she knelt down in huh cabin till huh cup o' joy was full;
Dough' ol' Satan tried to shake huh f'om huh knees wid scowl an' frown,
She jes' "clumb up Jacob's ladder," an' he nevah drug huh down.

She'd jes' croon above de babies, she'd jes' sing when t'ings went wrong,
An' no matter what de trouble, she would meet it wid a song;
She jes' prayed huh way to heaben, findin' comfort in de rod;
She jes' "stole away to Jesus," she jes' sung huh way to God!

She "kep' lookin' ovah Jurdan," kep' "a-trustin' in de word,"
Kep' a-lookin' fo "de char'et," kep' "a-waitin' fo' de Lawd,"
If she evah had to quavah of de shadder of a doubt,
It ain't nevah been discovahed, fo' she nevah sung it out;

But she trusted in de shadder, an' she trusted in de shine,
An' she longed fo' one possession: "dat heaben to be mine";
An' she prayed huh chil'en freedom, but she won huhse'f de bes',--
Peace on eart' amids' huh sorrows, an' up yonder heabenly res'!

Leslie Pinckney Hill


Wherefore this busy labor without rest?
Is it an idle dream to which we cling,
Here where a thousand dusky toilers sing
Unto the world their hope? "Build we our best.
By hand and thought," they cry, "although unblessed."
So the great engines throb, and anvils ring,
And so the thought is wedded to the thing;
But what shall be the end, and what the test?
Dear God, we dare not answer, we can see
Not many steps ahead, but this we know--
If all our toilsome building is in vain,
Availing not to set our manhood free,
If envious hate roots out the seed we sow,
The South will wear eternally a stain.


Come home with me a little space
And browse about our ancient place,
Lay by your wonted troubles here
And have a turn of Christmas cheer.
These sober walls of weathered stone
Can tell a romance of their own,
And these wide rooms of devious line
Are kindly meant in their design.
Sometimes the north wind searches through,
But he shall not be rude to you.
We'll light a log of generous girth
For winter comfort, and the mirth
Of healthy children you shall see
About a sparkling Christmas tree.
Eleanor, leader of the fold,
Hermione with heart of gold,
Elaine with comprehending eyes,
And two more yet of coddling size,
Natalie pondering all that's said,
And Mary with the cherub head--
All these shall give you sweet content
And care-destroying merriment,
While one with true madonna grace
Moves round the glowing fire-place
Where father loves to muse aside
And grandma sits in silent pride.
And you may chafe the wasting oak,
Or freely pass the kindly joke
To mix with nuts and home-made cake
And apples set on coals to bake.
Or some fine carol we will sing
In honor of the Manger-King,
Or hear great Milton's organ verse
Or Plato's dialogue rehearse
What Socrates with his last breath
Sublimely said of life and death.
These dear delights we fain would share
With friend and kinsman everywhere,
And from our door see them depart
Each with a little lighter heart.


So many cares to vex the day,
So many fears to haunt the night,
My heart was all but weaned away
From every lure of old delight.
Then summer came, announced by June,
With beauty, miracle and mirth.
She hung aloft the rounding moon,
She poured her sunshine on the earth,
She drove the sap and broke the bud,
She set the crimson rose afire.
She stirred again my sullen blood,
And waked in me a new desire.
Before my cottage door she spread
The softest carpet nature weaves,
And deftly arched above my head
A canopy of shady leaves.
Her nights were dreams of jeweled skies,
Her days were bowers rife with song,
And many a scheme did she devise
To heal the hurt and soothe the wrong.
For on the hill or in the dell,
Or where the brook went leaping by
Or where the fields would surge and swell
With golden wheat or bearded rye,
I felt her heart against my own,
I breathed the sweetness of her breath,
Till all the cark of time had flown,
And I was lord of life and death.


Lord, who am I to teach the way
To little children day by day,
So prone myself to go astray?

I teach them KNOWLEDGE, but I know
How faint they flicker and how low
The candles of my knowledge glow.

I teach them POWER to will and do,
But only now to learn anew
My own great weakness through and through.

I teach them LOVE for all mankind
And all God's creatures, but I find
My love comes lagging far behind.

Lord, if their guide I still must be,
Oh let the little children see
The teacher leaning hard on Thee.

Edward Smyth Jones


For the sun that shone at the dawn of spring,
For the flowers which bloom and the birds that sing,
For the verdant robe of the gray old earth,
For her coffers filled with their countless worth,
For the flocks which feed on a thousand hills,
For the rippling streams which turn the mills,
For the lowing herds in the lovely vale,
For the songs of gladness on the gale,--
From the Gulf and the Lakes to the Oceans' banks,--
Lord God of Hosts, we give Thee thanks!

For the farmer reaping his whitened fields,
For the bounty which the rich soil yields,
For the cooling dews and refreshing rains,
For the sun which ripens the golden grains,
For the bearded wheat and the fattened swine,
For the stalled ox and the fruitful vine,
For the tubers large and cotton white,
For the kid and the lambkin frisk and blithe,
For the swan which floats near the river-banks,--
Lord God of Hosts, we give Thee thanks!

For the pumpkin sweet and the yellow yam,
For the corn and beans and the sugared ham,
For the plum and the peach and the apple red,
For the dear old press where the wine is tread,
For the cock which crows at the breaking dawn,
And the proud old "turk" of the farmer's barn,
For the fish which swim in the babbling brooks,
For the game which hide in the shady nooks,--
From the Gulf and the Lakes to the Oceans' banks--
Lord God of Hosts, we give Thee thanks!

For the sturdy oaks and the stately pines,
For the lead and the coal from the deep, dark mines,
For the silver ores of a thousand fold,
For the diamond bright and the yellow gold,
For the river boat and the flying train,
For the fleecy sail of the rolling main,
For the velvet sponge and the glossy pearl,
For the flag of peace which we now unfurl,--
From the Gulf and the Lakes to the Oceans' banks,--
Lord God of Hosts, we give Thee thanks!

For the lowly cot and the mansion fair,
For the peace and plenty together share,
For the Hand which guides us from above,
For Thy tender mercies, abiding love,
For the blessed home with its children gay,
For returnings of Thanksgiving Day,
For the bearing toils and the sharing cares,
We lift up our hearts in our songs and our prayers,--
From the Gulf and the Lakes to the Oceans' banks,--
Lord God of Hosts, we give Thee thanks!

Ray G. Dandridge


Black brother, think you life so sweet
That you would live at any price?
Does mere existence balance with
The weight of your great sacrifice?
Or can it be you fear the grave
Enough to live and die a slave?
O Brother! be it better said,
When you are gone and tears are shed,
That your death was the stepping stone
Your children's children cross'd upon.
Men have died that men might live:
Look every foeman in the eye!
If necessary, your life give
For something, ere in vain you die.


(_To R. V.P._)

Cum, listen w'ile yore Unkel sings
Erbout how low sweet chariot swings,
Truint Angel, wifout wings,
Mah 'ittle Touzle Head.

Stop! Stop! How dare you laff et me,
Bekaze I foul de time an' key,
Thinks you dat I is Black Pattie,
Mah 'ittle Touzle Head?

O, Honey Lam'! dem sparklin' eyes,
Dat offen laffs an' selem cries,
Is sho a God gib natchel prize,
Mah 'ittle Touzle Head.

An' doze wee ban's so sof an' sweet,
Mates wid dem toddlin', velvet feet,
Jes to roun' you out, complete,
Mah 'ittle Touzle Head.

Sma't! youse sma't ez sma't kin be,
Knows yore evah A, B, C,
Plum on down to X, Y, Z,
Mah 'ittle Touzle Head.

De man doan know how much he miss,
Ef he ain't got no niece lak dis;
Fro yore Unkel one mo' kiss,
Mah 'ittle Touzle Head!

I wist sum magic w'u'd ellow,
(By charm or craf'--doan mattah how)
You stay jes lak you is right now,
Mah 'ittle Touzle Head.


(_Who Was Christened Lucy Jane_)

She danced, near nude, to tom-tom beat,
With swaying arms and flying feet,
'Mid swirling spangles, gauze and lace,
Her all was dancing--save her face.

A conscience, dumb to brooding fears,
Companioned hearing deaf to cheers;
A body, marshalled by the will,
Kept dancing while a heart stood still:

And eyes obsessed with vacant stare,
Looked over heads to empty air,
As though they sought to find therein
Redemption for a maiden sin.

'Twas thus, amid force driven grace,
We found the lost look on her face;
And then, to us, did it occur
That, though we saw--we saw not her.


Dar's a lazy, sortah hazy
Feelin' grips me, thoo an' thoo;
An' I feels lak doin' less dan enythin';
Dough de saw is sharp an' greasy,
Dough de task et han' is easy,
An' de day am fair an' breezy,
Dar's a thief dat steals embition in de win'.

Kaint defy it, kaint deny it,
Kaze it jes won't be denied;
Its a mos' pursistin' stubbern sortah thin';
Anti Tox' doan neutrolize it;
Doctahs fail to analyze it;
So I yiel's (dough I despise it)
To dat res'less, wretchit fevah evah Sprin'.


He's struttin' sho ernuff,
Wearin' a lady's muff
En' ways erpon his head,
Red coat ob reddest red,
Purtty white satin ves',
Gole braid ercross de ches';
Goo'ness! he cuts a stunt,
Prancin' out dar in frunt,
Leadin' his ban'.

Wen dat ah whistle blows,
Each man behine him knows
'Zacklee whut he mus' do;
You bet! he dues it, too.
W'en dat brass stick he twirls,
Ole maids an' lub-sick gurls
Looks on wid longin' eyes,
Dey simpley idolize
Dat han'sum man.

Sweet fife an' piccalo,
Bofe warblin' sof an' lo'
Slide ho'n an' saxophones,
Jazz syncopated tones,
Snare drum an' lead cornet,
Alto an' clarinet,
Las', but not least, dar cum
Cymbals an' big bass drum--
O! whut a ban'!

Cose, we all undahstan'
Each piece he'ps maik de ban',
But dey all mus' be led,
Sum one mus' be de head:
No doubt, de centipede
Has all de laigs he need,
But take erway de head,
Po' centipede am dead;
So am de ban'.

Fenton Johnson


We are children of the sun,
Rising sun!
Weaving Southern destiny,
Waiting for the mighty hour
When our Shiloh shall appear
With the flaming sword of right,
With the steel of brotherhood,
And emboss in crimson die
Liberty! Fraternity!

We are the star-dust folk,
Striving folk!
Sorrow songs have lulled to rest;
Seething passions wrought through wrongs,
Led us where the moon rays dip
In the night of dull despair,
Showed us where the star gleams shine,
And the mystic symbols glow--
Liberty! Fraternity!

We have come through cloud and mist,
Mighty men!
Dusk has kissed our sleep-born eyes,
Reared for us a mystic throne
In the splendor of the skies,
That shall always be for us,
Children of the Nazarene,
Children who shall ever sing
Liberty! Fraternity!

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