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

Joshua Henry Jones, Jr. "The Heart of the World" (1919)

The Heart of the World* 

 *Inspired by the speech of President Woodrow Wilson at 
 Boston on his return from the first sittings of the peace 
 conference in 1919. 

 In the heart of the world is the call for peace. 
  Up-surging symphonic roar. 
 'Tis ill of all clashings; it seeks release 
 From fetters of greed and gore. 
 The winds of the battlefields echo the sigh 
 Of hero souls slumbering deep; 
 Who gave all they had and now dreamlessly lie 
 Where the bayonets sent them to sleep. 
 Peace for the wealthy; peace for the poor; 
 Peace on the hillside and peace o'er the moor. 

 In the heart of the world is the call for right; 
 For fingers to bind up the wound, 
 Slashed deep by the ruthless harsh hand of might 
 When Justice is crushed to the ground. 
 'Tis ill of the fevers of fear of the strong' — 
 Of jealousies — prejudice — pride — 
 Is there no ideal that's proof against wrong? 
 Man asks of the man at his side. 
 Right for the lowly; right for the great. 
 Right all to pilot to happiness' gate. 

 In the heart of the world is the call for love. 
 White heart — Red — Yellow — and Black. 
 Each face turns to Bethlehem's bright star above, 
 Tho' wolves of self howl at each back. 
 The whole earth is lifting its voice in a prayer 
 That nations may learn to endure, 
 Without killing and maiming, but doing what's fair 
 With a soul that is noble and pure. 
 Love in weak peoples; love in the strong. 
 Love that will banish all hatred and wrong. 

 In the heart of the world is the call of God. 
 East — West — and North — and South. 
 Stirring, deep-yearning, breast-heaving call for God 
 A-tremble behind each mouth. 
 The heart's ill of torments that rend men's souls. 
 Skyward lift all faiths in hope. 
 Across all the oceans the evidence rolls 
 Refreshing all life's arid slopes. 
 God in the highborn; God in the low. 
 God calls us, world-brothers. Hark ye! and know. 

Published in The Heart of the World, 1919

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