Forgive me, God!
Above the thunder I hearkened;
Beneath the silence, now,—
(Wait, God, a little space.
It is so strange to talk with Thee—
I took it.
Is it Thine?
Forgive; I did not know.
Blood? Is it wet with
’Tis from my brother’s hands.
(I know; his hands are mine.)
It flowed for Thee, O Lord.
War? Not so; not war—
Dominion, Lord, and over black, not white;
Black, brown, and fawn,
And not Thy Chosen Brood, O God,
To build Thy Kingdom,
To drape our wives and little ones,
And set their souls a-glitter—
For this we killed these lesser breeds
And civilized their dead,
Raping red rubber, diamonds, cocoa, gold!
For this, too, once, and in
I lynched a Nigger—
(He raved and
I heard him cry,
I felt the life-light leap and lie,
I saw him crackle there, on high,
I watched him wither!)
I lynched Thee?
Awake me, God! I sleep!
What was that awful word Thou saidst?
That black and riven thing—was it Thee?
That gasp—was it Thine?
This pain—is it Thine?
Are, then, these bullets piercing Thee?
Have all the wars of all the world,
Down all dim time, drawn blood from Thee?
Have all the lies and thefts and hates—
Is this Thy Crucifixion, God,
And not that funny, little cross,
With vinegar and thorns?
Is this Thy kingdom here, not there,
This stone and stucco drift of dreams?
I sense that low and awful cry—
With silent sob that rends and tears—
Can God sob?
I hear strong prayers throng by,
Like mighty winds on dusky moors—
Can God pray?
Prayest Thou, Lord, and to me? Thou needest me? Thou needest me? Thou needest me? Poor, wounded soul! Of this I never dreamed. I thought—
He stood a moment on the steps of the bank, watching the human river that swirled down Broadway. Few noticed him. Few ever noticed him save in a way that stung. He was outside the world—“nothing!” as he said bitterly. Bits of the words of the walkers came to him.
Everybody was talking of it. Even the president, as he entered, smiled patronizingly at him, and asked: