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

Alice Dunbar-Nelson, "A Prayer" (1928)

Lord, keep my soul from bitterness and sting,
My heart from searing scorch and crushing blight;
I would not, by my gloom, obscure the light
Which might illumine rocks where others cling.
Far better, Lord, my eager hands should bring
Some little gift with my heart's blood a-dight,
To this great good. Ere I shall merge in night,
Let me not grovel, Lord, aloft, I'd sing.

For those who stand with twisted fear-clenched hands,
And heart's red chalice brimming full of hate,
See life's gold gates swing open far too late,
And peace go streaming by with hurried stare.
Far better 'twere to face the hoarse-voiced crowd,
And hoist love's guidon in the turgid air.

Published in Carolina Magazine, May 1928

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