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

Lucian B. Watkins, "Anita" (1907)



Far out in the dreamy ocean, by Nature's beauty
Lie the Islands of the Philippines — the Flower 
     Blossom Land — 
With flow'rs that seem most surely blown by the 
     rainbow's magic wand. 

Their shores are kissed by the foaming waves 
     that race from the dancing seas, 
As lambs that frolic in their play to their bound-
     ing gay hearts' ease — 
They wash the Sand-beach's feet to see just how 
     much they can tease. 

Tall, massive, sturdy trees here stand, great
     sentinels of might, 
That seem to do their faithful watch so bravely
     day and night; 
One sees in these undaunted forms a sermon for
     the right. 

The glowing brightness of the sun ; the chyming
     of the streams ; 
The whispers of the leafy trees as the breezes
     pass — It seems 
That Nature gives one here a touch of all her
     fairy dreams. 
There seems to be a misty spell o'er all the world
And all below — and all around — I wonder if it's
     love ! 
And if it is the "sweety" kind that poets oft
     write of ! 

There lived in this bright picture-land, not many
     years ago, 
A native maid; I'll try to make her lovely
     picture show 
Before your eyes, for I am sure that you fair
     beauty know. 
Anita was this maiden's name — her people called
     her "Nete," 
And th' love they showered over her to her was
     always sweet; 
Her happy heart shone in her hands and dainty
     little feet. 
It seems as if the chestnut came and begged its
     leave to place 
Within the dimples of her cheeks and o'er her
     pretty face 
Its richest hue, that it might here receive her
     smiling grace. 

The moonbeams gave their streaming light to her
     dark and wond'ring eyes, 
They seemed to cast a flick'ring light twixt love
     and fond surprise 
One moment then the next they'd droop as a
     wounded pansy dies. 
But, of every touch of Nature's hand that made
     this beauty fair. 
The greatest glory of them all was clustered in
     her hair — 
A blending of the sunbeams' gold and th' flow-
     ing midnight air. 
Anita loved a soldier boy, a colored youth called
A soldier in her land. He heard a love sigh in
     each sob 
When she lisped his name the best she could — a
     tiny little "Vob." 
At first Bob seemed as true in love as duty's
     soldier boy ; 
They were both happy day by day — but not with
     lasting joy! 
For when Bob learned of her great love he made
     her heart his toy. 
Time brought to Bob these sorrowing words
     "To America you'll return" — 
Now on his cheeks Anita's tears fell fast; and
     seemed to burn  
Their way into his dizzy brains! — Can he such
     love e'er spurn? 
Oh! take me to your dear homeland, "querido,"
     will you, please? 
I love you and I want to go with you o'er land or
"I'll take you with me home, my Love," Bob
     smilingly agrees. 
"Let's go before the altar, dear, within your
     holy church, 
For there alone can e'er we find the tie for which
     we search; 
Let's fly into one little nest on Love's exalted
"O, is this, really, true, now, Vob? — oh! say
     when may we go 
Before the altar in the church that we, by this,
     may show 
The love we've cherished now so long and must
     so surely know?" 
Bob named the day, then in her eyes he saw her
     happy heart, 
But, lo ! the day he named to wed was his evasive
For on the day before he knew his home-boat
     would depart. 
Time brought, at last, Anita's day and found her
     all prepared — 
And at her windowfall the day she stood and
     looked and stared ; 
But, Bob ne'er came to greet her there — and e'en
      the waves were sad! 
Bob tried to cheer his murm'ring heart while
     sailing home that day: — 
"O, well, I could not marry th' girl," he bravely
     tried to say 
But his heart rose up and choked his words in a
     strang'ling kind of way. 

"Come eat your porridge, *Nete,' my dear, 'tis
     plain this man has lied." 
" No, no, mama! O, no, papa! I cannot eat," she
"I'll wait for 'Vob,' he'll, surely, come to claim
     me for his bride." 
Day after day Anita stood and looked, but
     would not eat ! 
Grief crept into her dark blue veins and coursed
     from head to feet ; 
He stole her breaths of beauty that had graced
     her village street ; 
And stole the moonlight from her eyes and fixed
     dark pools, instead, 
Of tears so deep and still that shone a tint of
     evening's red — 
Also, the cruel sorrow, too, by which her life was
He chased the chestnut shades away and gave
     them to the seas ; 
He stole the roundings of her cheeks and flung
     them to the breeze ; 
And being thus so shorn of strength she sank
     upon her knees. 
Thus was she found by Time, who came and
     brought his servant, too. 
Death, and he bade him, "Gently take this
     broken hearted, true 
And saddened, wasted love away to blossom in a
And better world! away from life that's now to
     her so blue!" 

"Oh, 'Nete,' please speak to us once more! we
     cannot let you go!" 
Her mother, father, brothers, cried — "Don't
      leave us, love — oh, no!"
Her spirit dropped, now, in its flight, her whisper 
     "'Vob,' vou know!" 

Published in Voices of Solitude, 1907

This page has paths:

This page has tags: