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

Frances E.W. Harper, "The Present Age" (1896)

  Say not the age is hard and cold--
     I think it brave and grand;
  When men of diverse sects and creeds
     Are clasping hand in hand.

  The Parsee from his sacred fires
     Beside the Christian kneels;
  And clearer light to Islam's eyes
     The word of Christ reveals.

  The Brahmin from his distant home
     Brings thoughts of ancient lore;
  The Bhuddist breaking bonds of caste
     Divides mankind no more.

  The meek-eyed sons of far Cathay
     Are welcome round the board;
  Not greed, nor malice drives away
     These children of our Lord.

  And Judah from whose trusted hands
     Came oracles divine;
  Now sits with those around whose hearts
     The light of God doth shine.

  Japan unbars her long sealed gates
     From islands far away;
  Her sons are lifting up their eyes
     To greet the coming day.

  The Indian child from forests wild
     Has learned to read and pray;
  The tomahawk and scalping knife
     From him have passed away.

  From centuries of servile toil
     The Negro finds release,
  And builds the fanes of prayer and praise
     Unto the God of Peace.

  England and Russia face to face
     With Central Asia meet;
  And on the far Pacific coast,
     Chinese and natives greet.

  Crusaders once with sword and shield
     The Holy Land to save;
  From Moslem hands did strive to clutch
     The dear Redeemer's grave.

  A battle greater, grander far
     Is for the present age;
  A crusade for the rights of man
     To  brighten history's page.

  Where labor faints and bows her head,
     And want consorts with crime;
  Or men grown faithless sadly say
     That evil is the time.

  There is the field, the vantage ground
     For every earnest heart;
  To side with justice, truth and right
     And act a  noble part.

  To save from ignorance and vice
     The  poorest, humblest child;
  To make our age the fairest one
     On which the sun has smiled;

  To plant the roots of coming years
     In mercy, love and truth;
  And bid our weary, saddened earth
     Again renew her youth.

  Oh! earnest hearts! toil on in hope,
     'Till darkness shrinks from light;
  To fill the earth with peace and joy,
     Let youth and age unite:

  To stay the floods of sin and shame
     That sweep from shore to shore;
  And furl the banners stained with blood,
     'Till war shall be no more.

  Blame not the age, nor think it full
     Of evil and unrest;
  But say of every other age,
     "This one shall be the best."

  The age to brighten every path
     By sin and sorrow trod;
  For loving hearts to usher in
     The commonwealth of God.

This page has paths:

This page has tags: