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

Claude McKay, "The International Spirit" (1928)

The International Spirit
By Claude McKay

As flower dust is driven down the wind
To touch and quicken the green life of earth,
As birds spread wings and leave cold lands ‘behind,
For regions of sweet warmth and singing mirth:
So shall thy thought be carried surely forth
To the remotest dwellings of mankind,
Reaching its inmost self to give new birth,
New strength, new purpose to man’s boundless mind.

The birds of time shall wing thee down the ways
Of man’s abode. Thy progress will be keen
Against the heavy mist of stormy days,
As ever progress through the years has been.
Even as strong-winged messengers are seen,
In these amazing times with fine amaze,
Threading the tides of space that roll between
The earth and heavens that ever hold man’s gaze.

The nations will be stricken at thy word,
And grand old prejudices crumble down,
That ancient pride in warring breasts has stirred.
The noblest men shall work for any renown.
Thy truest heralds do not fear the frown
Of legioned bigots leagued by fear and spurred
To crush thy truth, but more the shouting clown,
The standard-flocking of the sheeplike herd.

Published in The Crisis, June 1928

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