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

Charlotte Forten Grimke, "A June Song" (1920)

WE would sing a song to the fair young June,
To the rare and radiant June,
The lovely, laughing, fragrant June
How shall her praise be sung or said?
Her cheek has caught the roses' hue,
Her eye the heavens' serenest blue.
And the gold of sunset crowns her head,
And her smile—ah! there's never a sweeter, I ween,
Than the smile of this fair young summer queen.
What life, what hope, her coming brings!
What joy anew in the sad heart springs
As her robe of beauty o'er all she flings!
Old earth grows young in her presence sweet,
And thrills at the touch of her gentle feet,
As the flowers spring forth her face to greet.
Hark! how the birds are singing her praise,
In their gladdest, sweetest, roundelays!
The trees on the hillside have caught the glow,
And the heaven smiles down on the earth below,
And our radiant June,
Our lovely, joyous June,
Our summer queen,
Smiles, too, as she stands
With folded hands,
And brow serene.
How shall we crown her bright young head?
Crown it with roses, rare and red;

Crown it with roses, creamy white,
As the lotus bloom that sweetens the night.
Crown it with roses as pink as shell
In which the voices of ocean dwell.
And a fairer queen
Shall ne'er be seen
Than our lovely, laughing June.
We have crowned her now, but she will not stay,
The vision of beauty will steal away
And fade, as faded the fair young May.
Ah, loveliest maiden, linger a while!
Pour into our hearts the warmth of thy smile,
The gloom of the winter will come too soon.
Stay with us, gladden us, beautiful June!
Thou glidest away from our eager clasp.
They will hold thee fast; and the days to be
Will be brighter and sweeter for thoughts of thee.
Our song shall not be a song of farewell,
As with words of love the chorus we swell.
In praise of the fair young June,
Of the rare and radiant June,
The lovely, laughing, fragrant June.

Published in "The Dunbar Speaker and Entertainer" (1920)

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