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

Georgia Douglas Johnson, "The Passing of the Ex-Slave" (1918)

Swift melting into yesterday,
The tortured hordes of ebon-clay;
No more is heard the plaintive strain,
The rhythmic chaunting of their pain.

Their mounded bodies dimly rise
To fill the gulf of sacrifice,
And o’er their silent hearts below
The mantled millions softly go.

Some few remaining still abide.
Gnarled sentinels of time and tide.
Now mellowed by a chastened glow
Which lighter hearts will never know.

Winding into the silent way,
Spent with the travail of the day,
So royal in their humble might
These uncrowned Pilgrims of the Night!

Published in The Crisis, September 1918
Also published in Bronze, 1922

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