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The Book of American Negro Poetry eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 109 pages of information about The Book of American Negro Poetry.

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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

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,
beauty. 
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

A LITANY OF ATLANTA

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!

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