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

E.L. Blackshear, "Africa--A Medley" (1904)

Her limbs in chain
From cross the Main
By Slaver brought
To Freedom's shore,
By art untaught,
Of savage Lore,
And simple thought--

Of massive frame,
Of patient mood,
She reeks no blame, 
But wears her yoke--
For others' good.
To plow, to hoe,
To sing, to sow,
To plant, to toil
On others' soil--

In cotton rag,
With cotton bag,
To pick the boll,
And sing the while,
From dawn to dark.
In cabin bare,
A Spartan's fare,
She waits till dawn--

Her fetich lore
Here now forgot,
She learns to pray
Her captor's way--
To laugh, to speak,
To jest, to weep,
In Freedom's land--

To raise her brood,
To chew her cud,
In Stoic mood-
The under sill,
The stone as mill,
She waits on God-
(And Appomattox)

Black shoulders bare,
The burden there
A Nation's load-
She tills—and toils,
Nor reçks of spoil,
Enduring all-
This Atlas-

Her heart grew warm
As her skin was black,
And of love for her captors
In that heart was no lack.
And she loved her own,
And still loved them
For the milk of her kindness
O'erflowed at the brim.
Then the land grew angry
And the lightnings flashed,
Of the cannon's mouthings
And the bayonet's dash.
Then the land was still
And the soil was red
As silent and mourning
They huried their dead.

But God heard her prayer and God heard her song
In the wide field of cotton and the corn rows long,
For He moved on His throne and His bright glory shone,
For in all His wide Dominions shall His will be done.

Then Africa looked to the God of her trust
And wept for she felt that her God was just-
Then Africa looked in the face of her brood,
And rejoiced for she felt that God was good.

Published in Voice of the Negro Magazine, March 1904

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