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

Carrie Williams Clifford, "The Singer and the Song (To Paul Laurence Dunbar" (1911)

For oh, his song was so sad to hear!
He sang of the millions who live in fear;
Of those who in anguish and patient pain.
Struggle for freedom but struggle in vain.

For oh, his song was so sweet to hear;
It fell like balm on the listening ear;
It told of bright skies, fragrant flowers, green trees,
And of God the Almighty — Creator of these.

For oh, his song was so blithe and gay,
"I will not hold my just anger alway;
Tremble ye wicked ones!" Assurance blest.
And hope brought the song to these children oppressed.

For oh, his song was sublime, sublime!
A glorious burst of music divine;
"He whose endurance shall last to the end.
On him shall heaven's choicest blessings descend."

So ever he sang as he journeyed along.
Cheering the faint heart, rebuking the wrong.
Preaching to all the sweet gospel of love;
Teaching of Jesus who reigneth above.
But the singer grew weary and sank down to rest,
Where he sleeps for a space, folded close to the breast
Of old Mother Earth, the song stilled for a day.
But our hearts to its music will vibrate alway.

Published in Race Rhymes 

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