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

Lucian B. Watkins, "Toussaint L'Ouverture" (1907)

 To learn the great achievements in the epics of your Hfe, 
 Or to learn the noble story of your victory- sworded strife ; 
 To learn the supernatural feat with which you struck slave-free — 
 How the Spaniard, French and English bled and groaned about your knee — 
 We only need to go to Hayti — France — where once you trod, 
 And Hasten to the story of the hearts beneath the sod! 

 We need not mock Old Hist'ry for the light he failed to catch 
 From the lustrous streak of glory that o'er- hung your cottage thatched ; 
 We know this cunning artist's white heroes are painted with Honors; 
 but, he oft forgets the shaded counte- nance of myth. 
 The dotted pages of no book can breathe your spotless fame — 
 For 'tis written in the "Milky Way" that marks your noble name.

 Soldier and statesman, brave and true, unlearned of book's device —
Soul-taught alone, your heart proclaimed, " Freedom at any price!"
Words feebly shadow forth the vim that heaved your noble breast —
We leave these for the sunbeams' crowns! — to grace your sleeping rest!

Published in Voices of Solitude, 1907

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