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

Lucian B. Watkins, "Anita" (1907)



 Far out in the dreamy ocean, by Nature's beauty planned, 
 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 bounding 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 above 
 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' flowing midnight air. 
 Anita loved a soldier boy, a colored youth called Bob, 
 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 w4th 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 seas!" 
 "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 perch." 
 "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 v/ed was his evasive art. 
 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 cried, 
 "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 fed. 
 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 new 
 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

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