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

Otto Bohanan, "Paean" (1915)



Keep me in chains! I defy you!
That is a pow’r I deny you!
I will sing! I will rise!
Up! To the lurid skies-
With the smoke of my soul,
With my last breath,
Tar-feathered, I shall cry:
Ethiopia shall not die!
And hand in hand with Death,
Pass on!
I shall not curse you. But singing–
My singing! fatefully ringing
Till startled and dumb 
You falter, the sum 
Of your crime shall reveal– 
This do I prophesy…
O Heart wrung dry!
Awake!
Startle the world with thy cry:
Ethiopia shall not die!

The Crisis. March 1915
Re-typed by Christian Farrior

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