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

James Weldon Johnson, "O Southland!" (1917)

    O Southland! O Southland!
      Have you not heard the call,
    The trumpet blown, the word made known
      To the nations, one and all?
    The watchword, the hope-word,
      Salvation's present plan?
    A gospel new, for all--for you:
      Man shall be saved by man.

    O Southland! O Southland!
      Do you not hear to-day
    The mighty beat of onward feet,
      And know you not their way?
    'Tis forward, 'tis upward,
      On to the fair white arch
    Of Freedom's dome, and there is room
      For each man who would march.

    O Southland, fair Southland!
      Then why do you still cling
    To an idle age and a musty page,
      To a dead and useless thing?
    'Tis springtime! 'Tis work-time!
      The world is young again!
    And God's above, and God is love,
      And men are only men.

    O Southland! my Southland!
      O birthland! do not shirk
    The toilsome task, nor respite ask,
      But gird you for the work.
    Remember, remember
      That weakness stalks in pride;
    That he is strong who helps along
      The faint one at his side.

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