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

J. Mord Allen, "The Psalm of the Uplift" (1906)


Still comes the Perfect Thing to man
As came the olden gods, in dreams;
And then the man—made artist—knows
How real is the thing which seems.
Then, tongue or brush or magic pen
May win the world to loud acclaim,
But he who wrought knows in his soul
That, like as tinsel is to gold,
His work is, to his aim.

It’s there ahead to him—and you
And me. I swear it isn’t far;
Else, black Despair would cut us down
In the land of hateful Things Which Are.
But, just beyond our finger-tips,
Things As They Should Be shame the weak,
And hold the aching muscles tense
Through th’ next moment of suspense
Which triumph is to break.

And shall we strive? The years to come,
Till sunset of eternity,
Are given to the fairest god,
The God of Things As They Should Be.
The ending? Nay, ’tis ours to do
And dare and bear and not to flinch;
To enter where is no retreat;
To win one stride from sheer defeat;
To die—but gain an inch.

Published in Rhymes, Tales, and Rhymed Tales (1906)
Also appears in Kerlin (1923)

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