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

Fenton Johnson, "S. Coleridge Taylor" (1915)


Mute thy strings, O Israfel:
Quenched thy fire, and shrouded low
Men who marvelled at the spell
And the weird but dream borne glow
Of thy master song.


Israfel, no singers rise
Who can lift thy laurel crown,
Thou alone to glory rise —
Star of England's fair renown
And the dusk man's hope.


When the Master came thou heard
Music woven of the night,
And, as soars a fleet winged bird,
Thou in melody made flight
To the Throne of God.


Will the meadows bloom again?
Will the lark in passion song
Lead us to his leafy den?
Will the day remain as long?
Israfel has gone.


Live to sing as he has sung,
Live to know the heart of God,
Live to speak an angel tongue
And to kiss the moistened sod
O'er our Israfel.

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