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

Fenton Johnson, "Swinburne" (1913)



Weep, ye Western isle! Swinburne is dead;
Far across the vale his soul has fled
To the shadow-land, the land of rest,
Where the poets sleep on Homer's breast.
Carve the myrtle with a gleaming pen
From the quill of robin or of wren,
For the night has come upon the land, —
Oh, the night has come upon the land!


In the yesterdays we saw the light
At a distance in the mystic night;
In the yesterdays the Muse came down
And in fire she painted Nature's sound;
But to-day the world's dull hour is here,
While old England crowds around the bier
Of the last of all the songster tribe, —
Last unloved of all the songster tribe.


Angels weave a crown of evergreen,
In the land no mortal eye has seen;
And, when stars are singing in the blue,
And the downy clouds are changing hue,
These white souls will deck their brother's brow,
And in reverence their heads will bow
To the sweet-voiced singer of the West, —
Last sweet-voicéd singer of the West.

Published in A Little Dreaming, 1913 

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