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

Frank B. Coffin, "Harriet Beecher Stowe's Monument" (1897)

Harriet Beecher Stowe's Monument. 
 She has builded a human monument 
 The walls of which will stand, 
 Long after she's departed from 
 The dwellers in the land, 
 Long after buildings have crumbled, 
 That are planted on the sand. 
 She decided to build for others, 
 And the building sheltered her not, 
 And some who dwell within there, 
 Through all time shall know her not, 
 And beneath the roof of the building 
 She'll have no lot or part. 
 And yet when the days shall have ended, 
 And beneath the roof tree's shade, 
 The children and grand children, 
 In childish ways have played, 
 And passed from under the building, 
 And vanished into the shade; 
 Some dweller beneath the building, 
 Thinking of when it was new, 
 May say as his heart turns backward, 
 Keeping his age in view, 
 The woman who built this building, 
 Builded better than she knew.

 And she, though she has passed onward, 
 Hearing the Master's call, 
 May say, though it may not matter 
 To her what the building befall, 
 That it's better to build for others, 
 Than to have no building at all. 

Published in Coffin's Poems with Ajax' Ordeals, 1897

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