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

Jessie Fauset, "Divine Afflatus" (1927)


Tell me, swart children of the Southland
Chopping at cotton In the sandy soil,
What do ye dream?
What deeds, what words of heroes
Leaven and lighten up
Your toil?
Know ye of L'Ouverture who freed a nation?
Heard ye of Crispus Attucks,
Or of Young?
Does fiery Vesey
Stir the spark within ye,
Or Douglass
Of the rare and matchless tongue?
That Washington
Who moulded a Tuskegee--
Does he inspire ye?
Does brave Moton thrill?
Mark ye Du Bois
That proud, unyielding eagle,
Beckoning ye higher than the highest hill?

But the swart children
Of the Southland
Stopping to dash the sweatbeads
From dull brows,
Answer: "These names Mean nothing to us,
They, nor the unheard causes they espouse.
Only we know meek Jesus,
Thorn - encircled,
Broken and bleeding
In his Passion's toils;
And Lazarus
Sharing crumbs with dogs;
And Job,
Potsherd in hand, a - scraping at his boils!" 

Published in Ebony and Topaz, 1927

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