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

J.E. McCall, "When Sampson Sings" (1928)

When Sampson Sings

By J. E. McCall

Black Sampson is a singing man;
     He’s blind and big and strong.
A steel guitar is in his hands,
     And in his mouth, a song.

He shuffles up and down the streets,
     Led by a little child;
His voice is vibrant, deep and loud,
     Like the sea when the winds are wild.

There’s sunshine, laughter, pain, and tears,
     In the songs black Sampson sings—
The slave’s sad wail, the warrior’s shout,
     And the laughter of rippling springs.

There’s something in his voice that clings,
     Like Ethiopia’s arms,
Which holds the strength of Pyramids,
     And great Sahara’s charms.
When Sampson sings he holds the throng
     With the spell of his magic bars,
Which thrill like the sound of tom-tom drums,
     On the Congo, under the stars.

Published in The Crisis, January 1928

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