African American Poetry (1870-1926): A Digital Anthology

Colonel Charles Young, "A Negro-Mother's Cradle Song" (1923)

Sleep, little son! Rest, ebon head!
Sad, your mother mourns your soldier-father dead,
Who on the soil of France bravely fought and bled;--
Sleep! Sleep!

When grim and grewsome War took its terrific toll
And grey Grief filled the heart with sorrowing of soul,
He answered then the call fo the world for Freedom's right.
Sleep, little son! Good-night.

Shad of my dead! Of warrior one!
Watch from you realm upon our little so.
Teach him that you died that all might rise and ru;
Watch! Watch!

Make for him a place in the world's new March of Man;
And be, oh spirit fine, his leader in the van.
Ah grant, dear husband mine, your sad wife's fond request;
Rest warrior one! Then rest!

Sleep, little son! Sleep, little son!
I pray your Living Lord that victory is won;
That all the daring deed by our dear soldier done--
Deeds done--

Up to the throne of God will rise in surging Throngs
Holding high hands to Heav'n to right a Race's wrong,--
Mind not, my darling son, your mother's eyes that weep:
Sleep, little son! Now sleep!

Published in The Crisis, October 1923

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