Countee Cullen, "Three Hundred Years Ago" (1925)
Three hundred years ago there was a land
And two who moved
With one fair thought: meet hand in hand,
And to be loved.
Then came a ship and strange, pale men
Who gave me drink
That made me sleep; I woke -- and then --
The broken link.
I am nost sure that you were moved
At all, or wept;
For you were young and much beloved --
Perhaps you slept.
But there was blood, and sweat, and hell,
And tears for me,
Till one whose voice was like a bell
Said, 'Go, be free!'
The chains were off, but other things
Still held me slave:
A stretch of land where gray sand clings
To a warm white wave.
But more than this, there was yoru face,
Beautiful and wise--
Oh, I have sought them every place,
Your face and eyes.
Three hundred years ago, and yet
A day ago;
There still the red suns flare and set,
The dark winds blow.
Published in The Crisis, April 1925