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

Clara G. Stillman, "Mysterious Land" (1924)

Mysterious land in the midst of my land,
I, your conqueror, come humbly suing for tolerance,
I, your explorer, come eagerly to discover you,
I, your lover, come tenderly to observe you,
I, a buccaneer, am hot after buried treasure.
Oh it is there, I know, and you must not deny me.
I have heard whispers, I have seen glimmerings
Of a golden treasure in a sombre forest.
Let me embrace it and spread it in sunlight.
Let me dig it up and bring it to my people.
Only to borrow it--I shall not rob you.
It is yours but it is the world's too.
Let me show it. “What! That treasure?” My people laughed.
“Rusty nails in an iron pot.
"Fool to drag to the sunlight what we so wisely had hidden.
“How is it you did not know their gold is not our gold?"
“But,” I stammered, “it is the gold of life;
"There is white gold, red gold, bronze gold and yellow,
“All precious, all beautiful . . . ."
“Fool,” they snapped, “there is only white gold."
And they turned from me sneering.
And I stood there filled with gifts;
I stood there laden with treasure;
I stood overflowing with beauty.
Some stared and some laughed.
And some passed by unheeding.
But some scowled and muttered,
"Such fools are dangerous
“And had better be crucified.”

Published in The Crisis, March 1924

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