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

Donald Jeffrey Hayes, "Lament" (1928)

I draw the purple folds of iniquity about me
And lay me down in the golden shadow of His Word
As upon a couch of many cushions. . . .
And the vanity of my heart
Is as gall upon my lips.
Yet is my sinfulness before me
Even as the vision of my looking. . . .
And though I humble my voice to pour forth
Praise and thanksgiving into His Presence,
Yet do my feet hunger for the paths of wrongdoing. . . .
And my fingers for the softness of evil. . . .
And I am like the black stone
That is neither fuel nor rock,
Anxious to add glowing to the burning Fire,
Yet made to feel the rushing of cool waters over its darkness. . . .
And I am like the bird born with cripple wing-
Longing to fly . . . yet knowing only the pulling of lush grasses
At its foot. . . .
And there is no contentment in me—
Neither in the ways of wrongdoing
Nor in the sanctity of Righteousness. . . . 

Published in Carolina Magazine, May 1928

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