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

Frances E.W. Harper, "The Syrophenecian Woman" (1854)

Joy to my bosom ! rest to my fear! 
Judea's prophet draweth near! 
Joy to my bosom! peace to my heart! 
Sickness and sorrow before him depart! 
Racked with agony and pain, 
Writhing, long my child has lain; 
Now the prophet draweth near, 
All our griefs shall disappear. 
"Lord!" she cried with mournful breath, 
"Save! Oh, save my child from death!" 
But as though she was unheard, 
Jesus answered not a word. 
With a purpose nought could move. 
And the zeal of woman's love, 
Down she knelt in anguish wild — 
"Master! save, Oh! save my child!" 
"'Tis not meet," the Saviour said, 
"Thus to waste the children's bread; 
I am only sent to seek 
Israel's lost and scattered sheep." 
"True," she said, "Oh gracious Lord! 
True and faithful is thy word : 
But the humblest, meanest, may 
"Eat the crumbs they cast away." 
"Woman," said th' astonish'd Lord, 
"Be it even as thy word! 
By thy faith that knows no fail. 
Thou hast ask'd, and shalt prevail." 

Published in Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects, 1854

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