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

Olivia Ward Bush Banks, "Voices" (1899)


I stand upon the haunted plain
  Of vanished day and year,
And ever o'er its gloomy waste
  Some strange, sad voice I hear.
Some voice from out the shadowed Past;
  And one I call Regret,
And one I know is Misspent Hours,
  Whose memory lingers yet.
Then Failure speaks in bitter tones,
  And Grief, with all its woes;
Remorse, whose deep and cruel stings
  My painful thoughts disclose.
Thus do these voices speak to me,
  And flit like shadows past;
My spirit falters in despair,
  And tears flow thick and fast.

But when, within the wide domain
  Of Future Day and Year
I stand, and o'er its sunlit Plain
  A sweeter Voice I hear,
Which bids me leave the darkened Past
  And crush its memory,–
I'll listen gladly, and obey
  The Voice of Opportunity.

Published in "Original Poems" (1899)