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

Paul Laurence Dunbar, "Religion" (1896)

Paul Laurence Dunbar, "Religion" (1897)

I am no priest of crooks nor creeds,
For human wants and human needs
Are more to me than prophets ' deeds;
And human tears and human cares
Affect me more than human prayers.

Go, cease your wail, lugubrious saint!
You fret high Heaven with your plaint.
Is this the "Christian's joy" you paint?
Is this the Christian's boasted bliss?
Avails your faith no more than this?

Take up your arms, come out with me.
Let Heav'n alone; humanity
Needs more and Heaven less from thee.
With pity for mankind look 'round;
Help them to rise---and Heaven is found.

Published in Lyrics of Lowly Life, 1896
Also published in Colored American Magazine, March 1907

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