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

Fenton Johnson, "The Soul of Boston" (1915)


My cobblestones are red with England's blood,
My parks are monuments of other days,
My battle cry the cry that right is might,
Humanity my God and mother love.
I blush when Justice cowers in the dust,
When once again we lead to Calvary
The Nazarene enwrapt in scarlet cloak.
I am the sister of the man oppressed,
The sword 'that flashed at primal Eden's gate, —
"No man may enter save the pure in heart."
I sit at Plato's feet, and glean the gold
That drifts from such a rich eternal mind;
Good England's culture is my fading past,
Columbia the glory of my dreams.
O sisters mine, go sound your drums of gold,
Go build your monuments to Greed and Pelf,
For I would rather cherish martyrs' blood
Than all the wealth enshrined in Amsterdam,
And I would rather boast the motherhood
Of Attucks and of Shaw than rule the world.
O God of Winthrop, here I spread Thy couch,
For I have kept Thy faith despite the age.

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