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

Joseph S. Cotter, Sr. "Frederick Douglass" (1898)

 O eloquent and caustic sage! 
 Thy long and rugged pilgrimage 
  To glory's shrine has ended; 
 And thou hast passed the inner door, 
 And proved thy fitness o'er and o'er, 
  And to the dome ascended. 
 In speaking of thy noble life 
  One needs must think upon the strife 
 That long and sternly faced it; 
 But since those times have flitted by, 
 Just let the useless relic die 
  With passions that embraced it. 
 There is no evil known to man 
 But what, if wise enough, he can 
 Grow stronger in the bearing; 
 And so the ills we often scorn 
 May be of heavenly wisdom born 
  To aid our onward faring. 
Howe'er this be, just fame has set 
 Her jewels in thy coronet 
 So firmly that the ages 
 To come will ever honor thee 
 And place thy name in company 
 With patriots and sages. 
 Now thou art gone, the little men 
 Of fluent tongue and trashy pen 
  Will strive to imitate thee; 
 And when they find they haven't sense 
 Enough to make a fair pretense, 
 They'll turn and underrate thee. 

Published in Joseph S. Cotter, "Links of Friendship" (1898)

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