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

Clara G. Stillman, "Dark Dream" (1923)

In a  cold  white  land
I  dreamed  of  warmth  and  darkness.
In  a  cold  white  land.
I  stayed  in  the  cold  white  land
But  yet  I  traveled  far;
Breathlessly  I  followed
A  sombre-gleaming  star
I  lost  it,  I  found  it,
I  saw  what  none  could  see,
Ways  of  golden  beauty
Opened  up  for  me.

Oh,  beauty  unknown,  unguessed  and  unregarded,
Beauty  flowering  and  burning  behind  white veils  of  silence!

There  speech  is  music,
There  dark  eyes  shine
Like  velvet  petals
In  a  golden  wine.
There  are  ways  of  langour,
There  glances  caress,
There  laughter  wells  a  fountain
Of  divine  childlikeness.
There  old  Sorrow  sits  in  the  shade
With  newborn  Bitterness.
But  sorrow  and  laughter  and  slave  toil  and free
Wove  a  web  of  music  that  hung  from  every tree,

Wove  an  ancient  rhythm  and  a  new  way  of seeing,
Wove  a  dance  of  atoms  in  the  dim  core  of being.
I  was  close  to  earth  then,
I  had  gone  back.
Something  lost  ages  since —
I  was  on  the  track
Of  an  old,  strange  loveliness.
Oh  my  eyes  were  clear!
I  could  feel,  I  could  see
Beauty  everywhere.

But  just  as  I  saw  it
All  of  it  was  gone.
In  a  moon-drowned  forest
I  stood  all  alone.
Moon  beams  bleaching
Dead  stalks  of  trees,
Night  owls  screeching
In  a  clammy  breeze.
In  the  silver  moon  light
I  could  not  see  my  star.
In  the  thorny  fastness
I  could  not  travel  far
In  a  cold  white  land
I   tried  to  tell  my   dream of warmth and  darkness.
In  a  cold  white  land.

Published in The Crisis, April 1923

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