The Book of American Negro Poetry eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 148 pages of information about The Book of American Negro Poetry.

Her father wills and she obeys,
The custom of her class;
’Tis Land not Love the trothing sways—­
For Land he sells his lass. 
Her fair white hand, young lord, is thine,
Her soul, proud fool, her soul is mine,
  Ride on, young lord, ride on!

No title high my father bore;
The tenant of thy farm,
He left me what I value more: 
Clean heart, clear brain, strong arm
And love for bird and beast and bee
And song of lark and hymn of sea,
  Ride on, young lord, ride on!

The boundless sky to me belongs,
The paltry acres thine;
The painted beauty sings thy songs,
The lavrock lilts me mine;
The hot-housed orchid blooms for thee,
The gorse and heather bloom for me,
  Ride on, young lord, ride on!

    James D. Corrothers


To be a Negro in a day like this
  Demands forgiveness.  Bruised with blow on blow,
Betrayed, like him whose woe dimmed eyes gave bliss
  Still must one succor those who brought one low,
To be a Negro in a day like this.

To be a Negro in a day like this
  Demands rare patience—­patience that can wait
In utter darkness.  ’Tis the path to miss,
  And knock, unheeded, at an iron gate,
To be a Negro in a day like this.

To be a Negro in a day like this
  Demands strange loyalty.  We serve a flag
Which is to us white freedom’s emphasis. 
  Ah! one must love when Truth and Justice lag,
To be a Negro in a day like this.

To be a Negro in a day like this—­
  Alas!  Lord God, what evil have we done? 
Still shines the gate, all gold and amethyst,
  But I pass by, the glorious goal unwon,
“Merely a Negro”—­in a day like this!


He came, a youth, singing in the dawn
  Of a new freedom, glowing o’er his lyre,
  Refining, as with great Apollo’s fire,
  His people’s gift of song.  And thereupon,
This Negro singer, come to Helicon
  Constrained the masters, listening to admire,
  And roused a race to wonder and aspire,
  Gazing which way their honest voice was gone,
With ebon face uplit of glory’s crest. 
  Men marveled at the singer, strong and sweet,
  Who brought the cabin’s mirth, the tuneful night,
But faced the morning, beautiful with light,
  To die while shadows yet fell toward the west,
  And leave his laurels at his people’s feet.

Dunbar, no poet wears your laurels now;
  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,

Project Gutenberg
The Book of American Negro Poetry from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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