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

Charles Bertram Johnson, "A Shell" (1905)

Nay, once I have not seen the sea, nor know,
By long familiar ear, her varying mood,
And passionate swell , but here upon this rood,
I found this gypsy bard of hers and, lo!
Close -fitted to my ear, in gratitude,
It murmurs of its far-off parent flow.
O, wander Sprite! what Viking fortitude
Left thee, stranded waif, achance wind's blow?
I am a Shell, far from my native shore;
Unlike thee, gypsy bard, my long exile
Has made my native speech remembered vain;
Here self-communing thou and conning o'er
With insane ecstacy thy ancient style,
The while another's tongue relates my pain.

Published in Colored American Magazine, February 1905

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