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

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

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