Among the tidal flats and rushes rank on rank;
On island tufts the heron feeds its viscid young;
And the quick mocker catches
From lips of sons of slaves the eery snatches,
And trolls them as no lips have ever sung.
Oh! It is good to be
here in the spring,
When water still stays solid in the North,
When the first jasmine rings its golden bells,
And the “wild wistaria” puts forth;
But most because the sea then changes tone;
Talking a whit less drear,
It gossips in a smoother monotone,
Whispering moon-scandal in the old earth’s ear.
They fight your battles for
you every day,
The zealous ones, who sorrow in your life.
Undaunted by a century of strife,
With urgent fingers still they point the way
To drawing rooms, in decorous array,
And moral Heavens where no casual wife
May share your lot; where dice and ready knife
Are barred; and feet are silent when you pray.
But you have music in your
And spirituals for a lenient Lord,
Who lets you sing your promises away.
You hold your sunny corner of the street,
And pluck deep beauty from a banjo chord:
Philosopher whose future is today!
The judge, who lives impeccably
With dull decorum and its implication,
Has all his servants in to family prayers,
And edifies his soul with exhortation.
Meanwhile his blacks live
Not always chaste, they manage to exist
With less decorum than the judge upstairs,
And find withal a something that he missed.
This painful fact a Swede
Who tarried for a fortnight in our city,
Remarked, one evening at the meal, before
We paralyzed him silent with our pity—
Saying the black man living
with the white
Had given more than white men could requite.
Black Julius peered out from
the galley fly;
Behind Jim Island, lying long and dim;
An infra owl-light tinged the twilight sky
As if a bonfire burned for cherubim.
Dark orange flames came leering
through the pines,
And then the moon’s face, struggling with a sneeze,
Along the flat horizon’s level lines
Her nostrils fingered with palmetto trees.
Her platinum wand made water
Old Julius gave appreciative chuckle;
“It’s jes about hag-hollerin’ time,” he said.
I watched the globous buckeyes in his head