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

Joseph S. Cotter, Sr., "Shakespeare's Sonnet" (1923)

I read a sonnet from the magic pen,
And in that sonnet was a lilting line,
And from that line I culled a haungting word,
And through that word I saw a crystal mountain,
And from that mountain rose a million voices--
I heard them singly and I heard them jointly--
And some were whispering and some were shouting,
And some were squeaking like a trothsome fieldmouse.
And some were fluting like the Hamelin piper,
And some were singing like a thrush at evening.
And some were wroth or sad and some were merry,
And some lipped notes that rose and splintered sky-ward,
And some tongued tunes that fell and fused the world-heart,
And all the insects halted, strained and listened,
And all the bird-folk trilled a wonder chorus,
And Spring, in sandals, sidled up to Summer,
And Summer, laughing, gripped the hand of Autumn,
And Autumn filled her lap with grief and greetings, 
And when I saw 'mailed Winter doff his doublet,'
I hurried back, O Shakespeare to thy sonnet.

Published in The Crisis, September 1923

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