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

Edward Silvera (Edward S. Silvera), "Introspection" (1928)


By Edward Silvera

Whence have we come?
We know but that
God made man,
And that Africa is a land of jungies–
We know too 
That nights have been dark
And like a million stars
We have grinned
Thru them all.

It is strange
That we should know Love,
We who have gasped for breath
Amid poisonous fumes of hate
And have sucked
The bitter breast of scorn;
It is strange
That we too
Should know the joy
Of kisses.

Our mouths have sung
The Lord’s song
In a strange land,
And our harp strings have vibrated
With new tunes.

We must find a new prayer
To pray,
The same words have grown dull 
To the ears of God:
We must find a new prayer 
For the God of the sun 
And steel girders,
We must build stronger altars
To the God of skyscrapers.

How quickly this dream has ended!
Palm trees are waving
On the banks of the Congo
Where grass huts still hide dusky bodies
From the sun;
And there are voices
Crying aloud in the wilderness—
There are voices in the jungles 
That echo thru the night
As ours did
Long ago.

Published in The Crisis, March 1928

This page has tags: