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

Edwin J. Morgan, "Rhapsody" (1917)

I Am Black.
Pouskin or Dumas or Toussaint L’Overture.
I am Black.
I have been the path of the Centuries
And Pharoes and Napoleons have 
Trod me up to glory.
I am Black.
Ham or Othello or Crispus Attucks– 
I have been fuel for the 
Flame of Progress. 
I have reared the everlasting Pyramids
And have flung Nineveh and Babylon
Up to God. 
I am Black. 
I have dredged the Nile
That Civilization might bring 
Darkness unto me.
I have cut marble and granite
For Rome and Carthage. 
I have lifted the rocks from
Culebra and Pedro Miguel 
And have watched the Seas meet.
I am Black.
I have been the great Burden-bearer,
The rungs in the ladder of mine 
Mine Enemy has bound mine eyes.
I have borne him to the mountain-top
And he has gloried in the Sunlight 
That I could not see. 
But now I shall cast off the bandage
From mine eyes 
And I will see the glory 
That I have made. 
I am Black. 

Published in The Crisis. January 1917    

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