African American Poetry (1870-1928): A Digital Anthology

Adolphus Johnson, "The Silver Chord--Poems" (full text) (1915)

Silver Chord





With the hope of doing something toward elevating myself this little book has been written, and is now given to the public.

As the Goddess of Music takes down her lute, touches its silver chords, and sets the summer melodies of nature to words, so an inspiration comes to me in my profoundest slumbers and gently awakens my highest faculties to the finest thought and serenest contemplation herein expressed. Always remember that a book is your best friend when it compels you to think, disenthralls your reason, enkindles your hopes, vivifies your imagination, and makes easier allthe burdens of your daily life. 

Should this publication be instrumental in drawing the attention of the masses, hitherto uninterested, I will then think I have accomplished my purpose.

From carved Emolian wood and silver strings,
The Goddess played her lute to titled Kings;
The hidden grass peeped up from the ground,
And the buds opened as the sweet sound
Arose from barren hills and wooded dells,
And then enveloped flowers of sweetest perfume.

I. Granny Cookin' Possum..
II. The Seventh Hour
III. Upon Such a Day.
IV. A Dream in the Old Haunted Man-
V. Will You be Ready when de Trum-
pet Soun's?
VI. The Reaper, War and Woe.
VII. A Pilgrim Soldier
VIII. The Veil
IX. The Cup of Wine.
X. Ma' Ole Home-Made Banjo.
XI. The Song that No Man could Learn
XII. The man of the Dark
XIII. The Human Treasurer of a Soul
XIV. Confession, Repentance, Conversion
XV. Baby 'Lize
XVI. Death 
XVII. A Spectral Vision.
XVIII. The Death of Pride.
XIX. Lazy Sam
XX. The Hope of Pride
XXI. The Poet
XXII. Jist Keep a Movin' on
XXIII. Night of the Christmas Star
XXIV. Return of the Gods
XXV. De Fiddler
XXVI. A Little Verse
XXVII. The Master in Rags
XXVIII. Cursed from Creation
XXIX. The Song of Ages
XXX. The Laws of Nature
XXXI. Dat New Preacher
XXXII. A Strange Friend 
XXXIII. The Slave
XXXIV. Sweet Memories of My Soul
XXXV. Remembered-Even in Death 




What dat steamin' in de kitchin?
Ebery 'ting dun up so brown,
Granny's fixin' fer camp-meetin',
Oh! Pa'son Johnson comin' 'roun'.

Co'n braid dat's so nice and yaller,
Sweet pertaters good and brown,
An' dat possum, it am cookin',
Fragrance flyin' all a-roun'.

Molasses braid, Injun red,
Mek yer scratch yer kinky haid,
Possum's greasy, an' so good,
Ain't dat fine camp-meetin' food?

Makes me mad to tink ob Granny,
'Vitin' Pa'son Johnson roun',
To sing and pray, an' fill his stomach,
Den goes straight on back ter town.

Lawdy! It's sho mighty vexin',
How sum ob dese ole folks do,
Gibs de comp❜ny all de good tings,
An' dey lebes you mighty few.

Granny, whar's all dem good tings?
Pa'son gone an' eat 'em all!
Clothes a fittin' kinder tight,
Bet he's a feelin' out a sight.

Granny's feelin' mighty vexious,
'Vitin' all dem big folks 'roun',
Mose, go hitch up ole mule Betsy,
An' take de Pa'son in ter town.

Now I lay me down to sleep,
So kind friends, pray, do not weep,
Free from all perplexity and pain,
I shall not awake in this world again.
My dreams shall evermore be sweet
Until that time when we shall meet.

As I lay me down to sleep,
My loved ones no more to greet,
My form lay silent midst the throng,
Before its flight they waft a song,
Angels have caught the gladsome chorus,
And singing sweet "Hosanna" o'er us.

Although my soul with sin was stained,
Back in the fold I was retained;
And now lay me down to sleep
God's love, I am prepared to reap.
My life has been just like a race,
A course! A finish! To see His face.

Now I have won; Life's work is done,
The end is at the setting sun.
As I pass through Jordan's stream
I see but one Eternal dream.
The Life I seek is always sweet
As now I lay me down to sleep.

God always brightens the darkest way,
From earth to glory, day by day.
He had said, "have thou no fear,
I'll preserve you, am always near.
Though at times my steps would falter,
I find peace at my Father's altar.

Now life has closed it's earthly door,
To earth, I shall return no more;
While Heaven's gates are open wide,
God bids me enter, and there abide.
To tread those streets rich paved with gold,
Forever in my Shepherd's fold.


Upon such a day how things have changed,
Such dreadful fear that fall on Kings,
And how this old world brought him pearls,
Upon such a day.

At idle times I drink my wine,
Engaged in thinking who shall bind
The devils with greed like swine,
Upon such a day.

During numerous wars nations are slain,
Innocent men killed and also chained,
These signs shall not pass around again
Upon such a day.

You buy my body for old trash,
I am then your slave, my flesh you lash,
And then you sell me for little pay
Upon such a day.

Many war ships are launched at sea,
While soldiers are fighting in fire and mud,
It all seems like hell to me
Upon such a day.

Our courts are partial and unjust,
They free rich and guilty men,
But justice must triumph in the end
Upon such a day.

Cursed be the man that's born,
Who tries to do his neighbor wrong,
The flesh from his bones shall be torn
Upon such a day.

But soon all things shall be known,
As the world is almost over-grown,
Secret sins cannot then prevail
Upon such a day.


Silently, dreamily, sinks the dusk,
From the arc of the infinite blue;
Soft shadows creep o'er mountain steep,
Sombre like and dark to view.
Then scenes and sights of ages come,
Haunting my dreams as the storm rages on,
I see queer shapes and frightful forms,
Hear cries and moans from souls that are gone.

In the old mansion with its hingeless doors,
The noisy spirits walk the floors,
At night I see them as they pass by
The ancient walls that loom so high;
I have heard the shouts of men who cried
Behind her walls of massive blocks,
Which are crumbling from storms and shocks,
The fallen steps and broken floor
The mansion's haunted, that I'm sure.

At times there's a burning light,
Which illuminates her halls so bright,
Although there is no one in sight,
The spirits are busy all the night.
They rattle windows and squeaky doors,
And why they do so no one knows,
The mansion's haunted that I'm sure.

Silent, remorseless, descends the dark,
O'er a slumbrous, indifferent world;
And black is the sky as the rooks fly by,
With ghostly glossy wings unfurled.
I would like to peep in some night and see
Those ghostly forms and horrid sights,
And watch the rattling windows and squeaky doors,
The mansion's haunted that I'm sure.


Dey's a day dats mighty vexin',
Sorter comin' on de way,
An' it's gwine to catch somebody,
Jes' as sure as judgment day.
Fer dem dats got no 'ligion,
Dem dat nebber will hear 'rite,
'Bout de blowin' ob de trumpet.
Dey is gwine ter have a fright,
Sum' folks dey am always watchin',
An' sum' of dem doan watch at all,
But den when you tell 'em 'bout it,
Dey tries tu makes you look so small.
But ez sho's der es a Hebin.'
Dat ah trumpet is gwine ter soun';
An' de sinners will be runnin',
An' a fallin' on de groun'.
Dose folks dat's a always idlin',
An' fixin' up dat same ole tale
'Bout de whale a swallowin' Jonah,
Or ol' Jonah swallowin' de whale.
Dem tings don't 'fect my 'ligion
W'en de word am brought aroun'.
I'se a gwine ter be ready
Befo' ol' Gabriel trumpet soun's.
You may talk about yer preachin',
An' a prayin' loud an' low,
When ol' Gab'el soun's dat trumpet,
You hab sholy got ter go:
be a sorter vexin', It may
Den de time seems ter be long,
But folks dey must all git ready,
Tho' dey aint dun' eny 'rong,
An' dey join de mighty chorus
Dat's to staht dem Hebin' boun'.
Is yer soul gwine ter be ready
W'en you heah de trumpet soun'?


Thou hearest the drums beat,
Thou hearest my bugle blow,
Thou hearest my widows weep,
Thou seeth war and woe.

Thou seeth fields filled with dead,
Thou heareth the voice of dread,
Thou seeth woe everywhere we look,
Thou seeth a mighty foe in every nook.

Thou hearest the of beast and man, tramp
Thou seeth the wolf at thy very door,
That causeth thy family to cry for bread,
That starveth the many, many are dead.

In time of peace, for strife prepare
To defend his country in war, beware!!!
Nations discuss and think it wise
To adore the warriors who win the prize.

Anthems are sung, "Long live the King."
Priest and prophets pray: church bells ring:
Yet through it all civilization reigns?
Such destruction; it's a horror and shame.

The house that's sad and lonely,
There sleep the silent only,
There's a visitor at our gate,
A horror of war, death's playmate.

Yet some daring fool will flirt,
And turn away with joy, unhurt,
And yet upon him who is very wise
Death falls, it is hard to realize.

There, unexpected he hangs his fate,
When death calls, it is then too late,
Oh! soldiers that march, Oh! maidens that smile,
Your comrades unseen keep step with the file.


Who is he that cometh
From the gloomy wilderness,
A pilgrim soldier burdened
With care and much distress?

He is on a journey
From a foreign land,
Seeking ease and blessing
From the mighty hand.

Once he sat in darkness,
Now the light has come,
He hath heard the echoes
Of peace, and rest, and home.

His burden has been lifted,
His hopes have been renewed,
His soul, it has been gifted,
And man's reward is due.

We want men who will follow
Across desert land, and sea,
To help carry the message
To those who are not free.


The troubled soul emblematical,
The unlimited storms of life's ocean:
Bibulous wine causes a riotous life,
And creates burdens and a lot of strife,
Gloomy days, and dreary nights.
An unwelcome guest, and hellish sights,
Smitten with blasphemous oaths, and scorned,
My feet in mirrored clay, my soul in bond.

My resting place a bed of coals,
Haunted by 'scaped hellish souls.
The Sun is a burning world beyond,
Burning Creation when man has gone.
The Earth, an undermined piece of clay;
Similar to hailstones, which melt away.
The turbulent seas, and volcanic land,
God holds all in the hollow of his hand.


'Twas I that filled the guests' flagons with wine,
And bade them drink and eat the fatted swine,
They did enjoy the flavored tasting stuff,
And not one knew the danger or when he drank enough.

The table was well prepared, that I did learn,
For them to drink and get drunk from the urn,
'Twas I, they blamed as each sleepy eye did blink,
And filled them once too much, and bade them drink.

Each merry maker full, did hie himself away,
With half-moon eyes, and found a place to lay,
Some upon a cot and others 'cross my lady's bed,
And those who had no place to lay wrapped in a linen spread.

And in silent dreaming, all through the lonely night
Of haunts and things that made an awful fright,
Until morning broke the dark away,
My! They were astonished to find it day.


Sam, go bring ma' home-made banjo
Dat's hangin' on de wall.
Be careful wid it son,
An' doant let 'er fall.
She may be a little dusty
From hangin' dar so long.
But she's always full ob music
W'en I's bubblin' full of song.

Did you notice w'en I struck her
How sweet an' ca'm she soun'?
Wel' da ain't annoder banjo
Like her in dis ole town,
An' I would play befoh de Angels,
To win my robe an' croun.
So da ain't no use askin' me
To lay my banjo down.

You may talk about sweet music,
'Bout yer circus band dat plays.
An' 'bout yer gran' church organs
Dat plays on de sabb'th day,
Yer piano an' yer fiddle,
An' dem hi' tone fokes dat sing:
But jes here ma' home-made banjo
W'en eber she 'gins to ring.

Den tings is pretty libely
W'en all de folks am roun',
An' dey all seam mighty happy
W'en dey heres de banjo soun'.
I can't say dat she's stylish,
Wid brackets, an' silber strings.
But she soun's de berry finest
W'en I pick dem rosin strings.

De fiddle am a' music
Dat's made fer hi' tone dance.
But I take ma' home-made banjo
'Mong dem all an' took a chance.
W'en folks go to de parties,
An' gets all settled doun,
Dey fergits all 'bout der 'ligion
W'en dey here's ma' banjo soun'.

It's jes like a harp frum Hebin',
It soun's so good an' sweet;
An' den dey all got happy,
Which made 'em moob der feat.
Ole Jackson stole ma' whisky,
An' was totin' it in ter town,
W'en he hear ma' home-made banjo
It made him set it doun.

Granny cut de pig'un wing,
An' den she dance de buck.
I took ma' home-made banjo,
An' begun to tune her up.
De pa'son is a good man
An' he can sho' preach sum'.
But when I strike ma' ole banjo,
He says "Amen" de preachin's dun.'


There's a song so sweetly,
And music completely,
That sounds sweet
To my soul.
The song from Heaven;
My soul did burn,
The song that no man could learn.

O, how it healed my soul,
And made me glad
The joys yet untold.
It brought joys to the sad,
The songs that no man could learn.

The author and finisher is my Lord,
'Tis the sweetest strains on music chord;
It makes my hope ever firm,
Music of Heaven, that no man could learn.

But I hope some day to learn that song,
The choice of the great King,
And with his Holy Angels
Lift up my soul and sing
The song that no man can learn.

Then I will bid earth farewell,
And leave everything here behind,
To sing that song my soul so longs,
The song that earth could not sing.


He is searching through the nights,
Fleeing from the lights, he is darting
Here and there, and stealing everywhere,
The man of the dark.

He is trying with soul and might
To telescope the dim moon-light;
He is thinking all the time
What he can steal or find,
The man of the dark.

He is a thief, and vagabond,
And his word is not his bond,
He is a robber to perfection,
And can hardly escape detection,
The man of the dark.

He lives in the hollow of a cave,
As silent and lonely as a grave,
Shunned by all, he hates mankind,
Which makes him restless all the time,
The man of the dark.

His hands are stained with human blood,
His feet are pricked with thorns,
His clothes are ragged, dirty and worn,
He wished that he had never been born,
The man of the dark.

He hates the bright daylight,
And roams around at night,
He is a beastly horrid sight,
He is wrong, and never right,
The man of the dark.

He is a wearied worn-out soul,
This purloiner of silver and gold,
Like a ghost that glides around at night,
He climbs the loftiest mountain height,
The man of the dark.

He shall know when that day comes,
By the setting of the sun,
Which will end this sinful one,
Who must atone for crimes he did,
The man of the dark.

There's a beginning, and an end,
There's the criminal's silent dock,
There's the Judge, and then the Jury,
Verdict is "death," he gasps with fury,
The man of the dark.

There he struggled this human wreck,
With a rope around his neck.
The only thing that I can say,
"I hope he had time to pray."
The man of the dark.

I wonder where he has gone.
Had he really a chance to atone?
If not, then it is too late,
He has met an awful fate.
The man of the dark.

He will pay the debt he owes,
For the crimes that he has done,
In the flaming fire of woe,
There to burn for evermore;
The man of the dark.


Dear maiden let me ask of thee,
Whether you give to me or not,
A promise to you, this day I make a vow,
Accept my present now.

You ask my love. What shall my love then be?
A hope, an inspiration, a desire?
The soul's eternal charter writ in fire
Upon the earth, the heavens, and the sea.

You ask my love. The carnal mystery
Of a soft hand, of finger tips, that press,
Of eyes that kindle and of lips that kiss,
Of sweet things known to thee and only thee?

You ask my love. What love can be more sweet
Than hope or pleasure? Yet we love in vain,
The soul is more than joy, the life than meat,
The sweetest love of all was love in pain.

From a human soul, mixed with common clay,
What more could I offer you, I pray?
And that I will not give, so let it be,
Nay, give me any love, so it be love of thee.


I am full of faults,
I am full of sin.
I am full of wrong,
That's my song.
I am full of habits,
That's my name.
I am full of shame,
That's my complaint.
I am full of love,
I am full of hate;
That's my song of fate.
I am full of weakness,
That's my song of meekness.
To God, I confess my fall,
He can forgive them all.


Forgive me, thou, O God, I pray,
I beseech Thee, day by day,
Move my numerous faults away.
This is my song and prayer for aye,
O Lord, I pray, remove the stain,
O let my soul not long complain:
Renew my hopeless strength again,
It is the shame that gives me pain.


I love the songs of glory,
I cannot tell the story.
The worldly things I hate,
That made my songs a fate.
And this, I know,
That weakness has laid me low,
But so my soul shall live,
I repent, God forgive.


'Lize you'se cum heah to me,
You're as bad as yu kin' be,
Why doan' yu behave yo❜sef?
Jist got mammy upset to def,
Papa's 'ittle darlin'.

Why doan' yu be good sometimes,
An stop dat actin' monkey shines,
When yu ain't sassin' you'se a cryin',
Lor' chile you sartinly is tryin',
Papa's 'ittle darlin'.

I'se got sumpin' fine fer yu,
I noes you're gwine ter like it too,
Can't yer gess what 'tis? Huh, it's fine,
Sumpin' I got right off de vine,
Papa's 'ittle darlin'.

Da' now, I noes dat yer wud smile,
Mouf dun stretch near ha'f a mile,
Now doan' commence ter laff an' holler,
Dis heah melun cos' mos' er doller,
Papa's 'ittle darlin'.

Cum right now an' git a slice,
Hah! But ain't it sweet an' nice,
Heah, jist take annoder piece,
'Lize, dis is sho' sum feast,
Papa's 'ittle darlin'.

Shut up gal, don't laff an' smile,
Can't yer be a nice 'ittle chile,
Doan' eat so fas', jist take 'yer time,
Fo' dis melun is yo's an' mine,
Papa's 'ittle darlin'.

I g'ess now dat you'se had enuff,
My goodness how you can stuff,
Now ain't we had a great big time?
An' wasn't dat ar' mellin fine?
Papa's 'ittle darlin'.


O Death, O Death, where art thou bound?
Among all nations thou canst' be found.
You visit the rich as well as the poor,
You biddest the great and small to go;
You leave your mark throughout the land,
And showeth no mercy for any man.

Thou knowest no sleep, slumber nor rest,
But taketh from us those we love best.
No man hath yet escaped thy hand:
Thou ridest thy pale horse through the land,
Thou sparest not Prophets, Priests or Kings,
Thou speedest faster than a bird with wings.

Thou comest to us both night and day,
And doeth thy work whate'er we say,
O Death! O Death! Where art thou bound?
Among all nations thou can'st be found:
They follow thee at thy command,
Thou sweepest the world with a touch of thy hand.


Upon the battle-field I cast my eyes upon the dead,
Nature's horror, the outcome of which I sorely dread;
It is a cursed vision and a terror stricken dream,
Of the slaughter of millions on that plot of green.

Men with gaping wounds groaning, and crying aloud in pain,
Women weeping, children hungry, because of their loved ones slain,
The burden of those days are surely hard to bear,
And each has prayed for peace, but vain has been his prayer.

At such a sight we weep and humbly bow our heads,
As we see the wolf come in stalking o'er the silent dead;
Cruel, cruel nations brought on this desperate war,
Which has brought desolation to many, and many a door.

They are restless still, 'twill soon be o'er,
This ruthless killing of friend and foe,
Life's sun is setting, and they see the shore
Upon whose banks they'll rest evermore.


Of all thy pride, and beauty, and neglected duty,
and the shame thou didst hide;
Death has taken it all away, and now in lifeless form abide,
And those whom thou didst scorn,
Looked upon thy nakedness and shame;
And thou didst not blush or hide.
Thy lifeless form has no pride.
Death is the end of the blush thou hast hushed.
And now between Heaven and Earth where the God of Pride
Shall not tell thee of thy beauty:
Nor tell thee of thy neglected duty,
Whisper to thee no more of love,
For thy lifeless form has been laid low and will soon decay,
And lose its shape and form.
But thy soul shall stand without pride or shame,
Naked before the Master,
Who knows the secrets of souls and hearts,
And records every deed,
And supplies its every need.
Naked didst it come into the world without shame and pride,
And naked shall it return unto its God, with sin-stained soul.
Of all thy pride and what thou didst hide,
As it begins, so shall it end.


Heah yu cum agin', ha!
Whah' yu bin all day?
Cum a sneakin' in de house,
Now, git outen ob my way;
Jess look at dat face-
Wha' did yu git dat dirt?
Bin out a playin' all de day,
You'se gettin' out ob yo' place:
Don't you rol dem eyes at me,
Gettin' as sassy as yu kin be,
I don't see what is gettin' ober yu.

Go out dar an' wash dem han's,
Gittin' too big to do yo' wok:-
Gess yo' think yo'-se'f a man,
Hurry up an' shet dat do',
What, pokin' across dat flo',
Fool wif me yo' lazy scamp
Bet I'll slap yo' out dat do'
Gittin' sassy and lazy too,
Don't want ter do a blessed thing.
Yo' think yo'-self a man fo' sho'
What dat yo' say, is yu sassin' me?

Go git me a switch off dat tree,
You'se a hard one, yes you is;
Good thing I'se got de rheumatiz,
Boy! I'll betcha you will hop,
I'se gwine to turn you ober to pop,
I'll bet he'll make yu turn aroun',
Bet you won't sass him an' froun;
I neber did seed such a chile,
You'se enuf to set me wild,
Take dat ax, and cut sum wood,
So I can cook yo' daddy's food.

Put dat wood in de fire-place,
Doan' stan' dar frounin' yo' face,
Git dat skillet, bring dat grease,
I'se gwine ter cook some cohn-bread,
Don't stan' dar rubbin' yo' head,
Yu don heard jes' what I sed,
All yo' fit fer, is eat an' play,
Doan' do a blessed thing all day,
Now you'se keep on foolin' roun'
I bet, I'll 'nock yu doun,
Yo' good fer' nothin' Lazy Sam.


Once a woman gave birth to a girl child,
Who grew to be pretty and fair,
Whose purity and love brought her fame,
Who was as fair as a lily,
Without sin or shame.
Whose hope of things above her path, was flowers,
Her song was love.
She talked to the gods without fear,
And to men of Heaven's nearness.

She taught her people, and never denied
The truth that came from on high.
She whispered with smile, and voice clear,
Be ready, O people, Heaven is nigh.
She hailed every traveler she chanced to meet,
With dusty garments and swollen feet
Asking questions, and of songs to repeat,
Of city above with golden streets.
So let the hope of salvation be our guide.

Learn the truth when a babe or youth,
Tell the people far and near,
Behold the everlasting Heavens are near.
Tell men the nearest way is love of man
Teach them a sweet song to sing,
Teach them the prayers, that save souls from despair,
A vision of hope, bright, hopeful and fair.


I've often said, he is a poet, and a good one too,
One that loves his down-trodden race so faithfully and true,
Unborn generations shall remember him for ages yet to come,
For he shall do as other poets long ago have done.
Although the paths are rough, and the journey is so long,
He still marches onward to his music and his song;
By God's divine help he'll some day reach the goal,
And the Universe will echo with the stories he has told.
There were some that made light of his effort and his rhyme,
He went on, leaving his footprint on the sand of time:
Sometimes the days were dark, and the nights so very long,
But his weary soul was buoyed by the music of his song.
As I say, he was a poet, and I repeat, a good one too,
His verses touched the heartstring, and thrilled you through and through,
He wrote of God and Angels, it was with inspired hand,
Of the fatherhood of God, and the brotherhood of man.


Sometimes I sit an' ponder,
An' think o'er life's condition,
Which puzzles dis heah ole man,
'Case its some strange proposition.

Life seems so bright at times,
Den grows dark betwixt de lines,
It's a mystery to de ole man,
But, I jist keeps a movin' on.

Sometimes my friends abuse me,
And my enemies dey accuse me,
Which makes dis road so rough,
But I jist keeps a movin' on.

De way seems kinder doubtin',
As my fren's git er poutin'.
Home gets kinder dark at times,
But I jist keeps a movin' on.

I don't listen at dem folks,
Wen dey kid me wid der jokes,
I jist shun dem black mokes
As I keeps a movin' along.

Sometimes da call me crazy,
An' say I'm jist too lazy,
But dis heah thing called writin',
I'se sholey gwine ter do.

Da kin laff an' call me silly,
Da'kin say jist w'at da please,
But I'se gwine ter keep a movin,'
Dat keeps my heart at ease.

W'en er look at life's condition,
As the world is goin' roun',
Why its jist one hard proposition
'Ter keep frum goin' agroun'.

So it ain't no use ter worry,
An' da ain't no use ter froun,
Yer must carry your own burdin',
'Case yer can't lay it down.

So ise gwine ter keep on doin',
Doe dey call w'at I do wrong',
I ain't gwine ter stop fer nobody,
But Is'e gwine ter keep movin' on.


Oh, how my soul did long to sing
A new song to the new-born King;
My hope renewed, my soul shall sing
Of the night of the Christmas star.

He comes! He comes! The work is done,
He brings Salvation for every one,
Dispelling the darkness for the light,
On the night of the Christmas star.

Shining brighter than all other stars,
Brighter than Jupiter, Neptune or Mars,
It shines for peace, and good will to men,
Away off yonder this Christmas star.

The burden on the soul is now very light,
Reaching for that star, that is so bright,
Shining over there where the melodies shine,
Is the Christmas star that is so sublime.

Oh happy! Oh happy! will be the day,
When my soul shall find its weary way,
To that Heavenly shore forever to stay,
By the light of the Christmas star.

Awake ye saints-Sing and happy be,
For Christ was born to set us free,
Bow down and sing in praise to him,
By the light of the Christmas star.

Give me back my lutes and my forgotten songs,
Give me my fantastic nooks with their ancient charms,
Give me back my incense pot with its pleasant dreams,
Give me back the dear old life fraught with tragic themes.

Give me back the maids that sang and danced around my throne,
Give me back the songs they sang with magic all their own,
Give me back the molten loft and idols carved in stone,
Give me back the absentees and those that helped to moan.

Give me back my golden altar where I killed my Swine,
Give me back my jeweled chariots and everything divine,
Give me back my banquet hall with tables laden with wine,
I'll drink once again with ye gods of the olden time.


Susan, heah dat Sam playin' de fiddle,
Heah dat music goin' tweedle de tweedle,
Jist shuts his eyes an' pats his feet,
Chile! he don't need no music book,
Wen he puts dat fiddle up side his face,
Huh! Lordy! you'se gwine ter lose yer grace.

It makes more notes den any bird,
'Tis de sweetest tunes I eber heerd;
Dat boy can make dat fiddle ring,
Yer feel like doin' de grape vine swing,
Sue, tell Mary Jane ter come to de do',
'Case she ain't heerd sich music befo'.

Look! Deacon Johnson, dun lef' his prayer,
An' stole out heah, dat fiddle to heah,
Heah comes Aunt Jemima, toddlin' down,
Dat music is gwine ter bring all de town,
Go easy dere, you people, don't shuffle so,
De Debbil will get you sho', down below.


As a friend read it again,
Read it when sad, read it when glad,
Read it to old, read it to young,
And to tribes and nations of every tongue.

Read that God's salvation,
Is free to all creation,
And through it-soul's strife.
Will find succor through life.

Read that little verse, friend,
I know that you'll commend;
When far from your home,
Read it as an axiom.


I am clothed in rags,
I am an honest man,
And make an honest living,
By the sweat of my brow;
I toil so very hard,
Look at my horny hands,
I must get a living,
This world owes it to me.
I may be very simple,
Queer things I may do,
But of sense and judgment,
I've got as much as you.
I may look poverty-stricken,
With my old torn clothes,
But instead of growing hungry,
I am getting rich and fat.
Of course I will acknowledge,
I have seen hungry times,
But there's heaps of satisfaction
In the knowing, if you know,
That this world is just an Eden,
If you try to make it so;
For no one can monopolize
The King of night and day,
Even if you are in rags,
You can always scatter sunshi
As you seek for light divine.


What sayest ye inhuman devils
About the souls of men?
What's that in your den
Ye unholy spirits of hell?
What secrets have ye there
Within that burning spot?

Thou art greedy indeed,
Thou stealeth from mortals,
The precious things they need.
Ye showeth them no mercy,
Nor carest for their pleading.

Thou seeketh their souls
To build ye a kingdom
Of sin and abomination,
Which is cursed from Creation.


Do you love the song of ages?
Do you love the songs of time?
Do you love to hear old stories
Telling us all about the Tories?
Do you love the songs of nations
Filled with music of creations?
Do you love the rain and sunshine
And the rainbow, Nature's sign?
I love to talk of days gone by,
And the author of this lullaby.
I love to wander without fear
Around this great big mundane sphere.

Dim are the eyes that see not that, which they see little.
Deaf are the ears that hear not that, which they hear little.
Dumb are the hearts that receive not that, which they perceive little.
Greedy and ungrateful are the mouths that eat, which they do not devour.
Careless are the hands that waste, which do not use the gifts of Life.
Unmindful is he that guides his feet into dangerous paths.
Ungrateful is the soul that does not send up songs of praise
To the high and holy God and Redeemer of all creation.
These laws of nature, as portrayed, are the gift of God.

Look out, Mr. Preacher, whar 'yer walkin',
Make a mistep, sho's yer bohn;
I tell you what, it's no use talkin',
'Ef 'yer slip up Chile, 'yer's gone:
The road is full 'ob stumps an' stubble,
Ruts an' sinkholes ebery-whar;
I spec dey'll gib 'yer heaps 'ob truble,
'Ef 'yer don't stop 'yer foolin' dar'.
It's dark ez pitch an' mighty cloudy,
Spec de debbil's walkin' roun',
Fust ting 'yer know he'll tell 'yer howdy;
Lif' his hoof an' stomp de groun'.
Preacher-man, dere's a sto'm a brewin'!
Heah de a'ful thunder peal?
Look! Blazin' lightin', threatnin' ruin—
Oh, tell me, how 'yer feel.
Drap on 'yer knees an' go ter prayin','
Ax de Lawd to help 'yer out;
Chile, tell him you'se a lam' 'er strayin'-
Dun got loose and stumblin' 'bout,
An' 'den you'll see de stars 'er gleamin'-
Luminating all de way;
Yea, 'bout ten thousand,' twinklin', gleamin',
Smack untell der break 'ob da',
But if 'yer fail de debbil git 'yer,
Fetch 'yer slap right in de eye.
You'll feel most like 'er grapeshot hit 'yer,
Drapped from ha'f way to der sky.
Well, I hope 'yer can stay, sun,
But 'yer got a hard road 'ter run.


Whence camest thou stranger, seeking for a friend
Whose love dost thou want to flow with pain?
Thou art friend to no man, thou art a foe;
For thy friendship art dangerous where'er thou go.
And is he dead at last? He lingered long,
Despite the fever fits of doubt and pain,
It seemed that faith had wov'n a web so strong
'Twould keep him till his pulse beat true again.
Center of so much youth, and hope, and trust,
How could he crumble into common dust?
Cold blew the winds of circumstance,
Prudence and penury stood side by side,
Barbing the arrow shot by crafty chance,
Snatching the balsam from the wounds of pride.
Slander spiced well the cup false friendship
And so friendship died. Where shall we make his grave.
Scatter no roses on the bare, black earth,
Plant no white lilies: no blue violets bloom,
Weak in his death, as feeble in his birth.
Why should life strive to sanctify his tomb?
Even gentle memory is by truth forbid.
To honor aught that died as thy friend did.
Let the rank grasses flourish fearlessly,
With no fond footstep brushing them away;
While the young life be troubled, strong and free,
Turns to the promise of the world's new day,
Leaving the darkened skies to close above
The unhallowed burial place of shallow Love.


Here am I, only a defenseless creature,
Bound in chains, and ready to die;
Why did God give freedom to my birth?
No creature should be a slave on this earth.

These bonds and burdens make me weary,
As a strong, gigantic, flaxen-haired man
Cursed me, and flayed me, whip in hand,
Until so weakened, I could not stand.

He lashed me until my back was sore,
And my spirit humbled could hope no more;
The sun shone brightly on a miserable slave,
Mockery, its only a span to the grave

The stars glitter out in the silent night,
But I, a slave, must endure this plight;
The trees in the forest I must now hew,
God pity me! Oh, what shall I do?

Each day life seems to me so many years
I bear its burden welled up with tears,
But he, I call Master, the cowardly knave,
Is really not fit to own a slave

Bowed with age, and then like the slave,
Must soon make his bed down in the grave;
For every thing must have an end,
Death is conqueror, to him we must bend.

Nay, do not look for perfect peace or rest,
A life of noble conflict is the best;
And chivalry will win a brighter crown
Than we could gain by casting burdens down.


Return to my soul, oh, sweet memories,
Bring back the tragic scenes of nature;
Lead me into a lonely room or den,
Where no voice can disturb my pen.
I care not for the treasures of gold,
But love best of all an inspired soul:
Let me see nature display her beauty,
And hear always the song of our duty.
The sighing of trees on the lonesome hill,
Where bird twitters echo from valley to rill.
Where genius finds beauty at her gayest,
Enjoying the mystery of unsought pleasure;
Among all these sit ungrateful man,
Longing for an inspiration to plan;
And yet what he sees, he knows it not,
If he be great or little, that's his lot
To see this world with his greedy eyes,
And yet something he must despise.
In secret coves burst music in harmony,
Rhyming with song so pleasant to hear,
Strains of music from the harps of saints
Echo through Paradise, a story to tell
Of the pleasures, and woes as well,
How the old memories are thronging,
As I gaze through the gloom o'er the lea,
And I whisper, with weary longing,
There's no light in the window for me.
Speak! Speak! Thou silent spectre of the night!
Shall memory ever struggle from the pyre,
When hope, when joy, when love hath lost their might,
And, phoenix like, defy life's searing fire,
To fill my day-dreams with its blighting power,
And break my slumbers with its fancies ghast?
Speak! Speak! May not some brighter future hour
Release me, oh, thou Spirit of the Past.


Is this thy cold form that sleepest
With an evil scorn upon thy brow?
And where are all thy good friends
That brought thee down in shame?
If thou didst wrong, my good friend,
Must we put upon them the blame?
And thou wouldst have taken his life,
And marred his hopes with everlasting strife.
But seeing that thou dealt so unfair,
Thou sought thy secret chamber in prayer.
Thou outlived the curse of mortal man,
And strove to better his forbidden hand,
Having done something which was wrong,
Pity such creatures who die without prayer or song.
The life of man is strange, but death is common,
If I could call thee from thy long, last sleep
I would teach thee to save thy soul from pain.
Feeling death, and knowing thou couldst die but once,
God's work then, is what we must entertain,
Death givest thee no more of that which life demands,
For thou hast been cursed from a blessed land,
Thy tongue cleavest to the roof of thy mouth,
Thou canst not speak, nor seek from truth.
Time has stolen thee away from many good things,
And youth has fled from thee with everlasting wings.
Mercy has passed thee by, and bowed her head in shame,
Thou disobedient, troublesome creature, who is to blame?
If I were Judge, this sentence I always should say,
"Live thou, through ages, until that blessed, eternal day."