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

Maurice N. Corbett, "Foreign Labor" (1914)

The convict from a foreign shore
Has scarcely reached this land before
Its laws and statutes he defies
And the flag of anarchy he flies.
The magnates' property he loots,
The workmen in the mines he shoots,
With arms the nation's life he'll seek,
Before its tongue he learns to speak.

And when as unionist, he's struck,
And set with fire his landlord's truck,
The wheels of industry he stops,
In fields, and harbors, mines, and shops,
And factories, while on this land
He only waits to get command
On ships and forts to keep an eye
Unchallenged as a prowling spy.

Not one such crime do blacks commit,
But here indignantly they sit
With looks of sadness on each face,
As foreign labor takes the place.
No torch nor bomb have they applied;
Their country's flag they've not defied;
They've kept no set of men from work;
Their country's flag ne'er did they shirk.

They love the flag which set them free,
They love the name of liberty,
They love this form of government,
They love the nation's president,
They love the fundamental law,
But bitterly do they abhor
The law's interpretations vile,
That now some statute-books defile.
Their institutions are their own;
This is the only land they've known,

No "Fatherland" nor kindred shore
Have they to lure them any more
Their sworn allegiance to divide
Between this country where abide
They now, and that from whence they came.
No other race can say the same.

Yet men have tried to their disgrace,
To treat them as an alien race,
Despite the fact that they alone
Columbians are in blood and bone.
No Irish, Scotch, nor Russian Pole,
No foreign born do their ranks hold.
From emigration, get they none,
So they increase by births alone.

Published in The Harp of Ethiopia, 1914

This page has tags: