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

Olivia Ward Bush-Banks, "Pulse Beats" (1923)

O Life --- triumphant Life, thy upward ways
Unfold to men of lofty moods,
To men who hear, and having heard,
Respond full freely to the higher call.
As in the primal day of gray-green Earth,
When flowers all colorless, and songless birds,
And Man --- half brute,
Caught color, song and soul-hint
From out the realm of Nature's sovereignty,-
So for thy richer quality, O Life,
Some men have yearned, and yearning,
Found it near.

O Life --- triumphant Life, thy gleaming heights
Are reached by men of vision clear,
By men who have keen sense of sound-and sight,
Who do not climb to belfry towers
Amid the tumult of discordant clang,
Nay, rather do they seek a place removed,
Where clang and tumult blend ami make
The music of the climes.
Calm-souled, nor courting human praise,
They feel the urge-they hold out helping hands,
And upward keep their way.

O Life --- triumphant Life, thou art achieved
By all who throw off low desire,
And from the chrysalis of self
Emerge, and rising, aid their kind,
Unlike some rare old instrument.
Long laid aside-with silent stringslts quality made useless by decay
They give their best, they open doors of Hope,
They grow to fitness through the commonplace,
Until, their souls enriched, they feel
The pulse-beats of a new

Published in The Messenger, February 1923

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