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

Claude McKay, "The Little Peoples" (1919)

The little peoples of the troubled earth, 
The little nations that are weak and white;---
For them the glory of another birth,
For them the lifting of the veil of night.
The big men of the world in concert met,
Have sent forth in their power a new decree:
Upon the old harsh wrongs the sun must set,
Henceforth the little peoples must be free!

But we, the blacks, less than the trampled dust,
Who walk the new ways with the old dim eyes,---
We to the ancient gods of greed and lust
Must still be offered up as sacrifice:
Oh, we who deign to live but will not dare,
The white world's burden must forever bear!

Published in The Liberator, July 1919

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