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

Poems by Otto Bohanan in "The Book of American Negro Poetry" (1922)


The Dawn's awake!
  A flash of smoldering flame and fire
Ignites the East. Then, higher, higher,
  O'er all the sky so gray, forlorn,
  The torch of gold is borne.
The Dawn's awake!
  The dawn of a thousand dreams and thrills.
And music singing in the hills
  A paean of eternal spring
  Voices the new awakening.
The Dawn's awake!
  Whispers of pent-up harmonies,
With the mingled fragrance of the trees;
    Faint snatches of half-forgotten song—
  Fathers! torn and numb,—
    The boon of light we craved, awaited long,
  Has come, has come!


A great swart cheek and the gleam of tears,
The flutter of hopes and the shadow of fears,
And all day long the rub and scrub
With only a breath betwixt tub and tub.
Fool! Thou hast toiled for fifty years
And what hast thou now but thy dusty tears?
In silence she rubbed… But her face I had seen,
Where the light of her soul fell shining and clean.

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