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

Carrie Williams Clifford, "Frederick Douglass" (1917)

Frederick Douglass

(In honor of the centenary of his birth—February 1817-1917.)

A century of mighty thoughts has passed,
Of mighty deeds and Merlin-magic years,
Since first his infant wail assailed the ears
That knew not how prophetic was the blast!
Then swiftly sped the years into the vast
Store-house of time! The bitter vale-of-tears
Was vanquished, and the dark abyss-of-fears;
The thing, transformed, became a Soul at last!
Search noble history's most stirring page,
And tell what life excelled his in the race;
Trace deeds of daring men in every age
And say if one out-rivalled this dark face.
Great Douglass--slave and fugitive and Man,
With the immortal host, thou art in the van! 

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