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

Anne Spencer, "White Things" (1923)


Most things are colorful things—the sky, earth, and sea.
                 Black men are most men; but the white are free!
White things are rare things; so rare, so rare
They stole from out a silvered world—somewhere.
Finding earth-plains fair plains, save greenly grassed,
They strewed white feathers of cowardice, as they passed;
                 The golden stars with lances fine
                 The hills all red and darkened pine,
They blanched with their wand of power;
And turned the blood in a ruby rose
To a poor white poppy-flower.

They pyred a race of black, black men, 
And burned them to ashes white; then
Laughing, a young one claimed a skull.
For the skull of a black is white, not dull, 
                 But a glistening awful thing;
                 Made it seems, for this ghoul to swing
In the face of God with all his might,
And swear by the hell that siréd him:
                 "Man-maker, make white!"

Published in The Crisis, March 1923

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