African American Poetry (1870-1927): A Digital Anthology

Lewis Alexander, "Japanese Hokku" (1927)

JAPANESE HOKKU

O APPLE blossoms
Give me your words of silence,
Yes, your charming speech.

If you would know me,
Do not regard this display ;
Mingle with my speech.

Why sit like the sphinx,
Watching the caravan pass?
Join in the parade.

What if the wind blows?
What if the leaves are scattered,
Now that they are dead?

While trimming the plants
I saw some flowers drooping.
I am a flower.

This is but my robe,
His Majesty gave to me.
Garments will decay.

On the flowering twig,
Lo! the robin is singing.
It must be spring.

Looking up the hill
The road was long before me.
This road is longer.

Death is not cruel
From what I have seen of life;
Nothing else remains.

Life is history.
Turn not away from the book.
Write on every page!

If you had not sung
Then what would I imitate,
Happy nightingale?

Sitting by the pool,
I looked in and saw my face.
O that I were blind!


Published in Caroling Dusk1927

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