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

Fenton Johnson, "Soldiers of the Dusk" (1915)


Black men holding up the earth,
Atlas burdened they descend
Deep into the vale of Hell;
And with valor long defend
Fairer brothers from the wounds
That the dogs of war inflict,
And with patriotic souls
Die in Europe's last conflict.


Paris shall not fall so long
As there breathes a man of dusk,
London shall be saved an age
By the fighters of the dusk;
Zulu, robbed of land and home,
For the robber bares his heart,
Kaffir, giving Europe gems,
Europe pierces with a dart.


They are pagan, men of blood,
They have not a golden rule,
Cannibals and fetish men
With their laws intensely cruel;
But the God of Calvary
Will in years unborn be just
To the men who died for men,
Victims of the war god's lust.

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