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

Priscilla Jane Thompson, "To a Little Colored Boy" (1900)


Oh, pure and sportive little child,
   Be happy while you may:
Ring out your laughter loud and clear;
   Be blithe, enjoy your day.

Your eyes of sloe, they sparkle bright;
   Your rounded, dusky cheeks,
Are ever dimpled in a smile,
   From each week into weeks.

Build high your castles in the air;
   Dream on of manhood's fame;
What matter, if your pure, young, heart,
   Deems each man's chance the same.

I hold your little hand in mine;
   Fast wags your childish tongue;
Your prospects doth look bright to you,
   Because you are so young.

Thou knoweth not, poor little boy,
   What Future holds for thee,
Thy dreams are not extravagant,
   And yet, they canst not be.

This mass of midnight curly hair,
   This soft and dusky skin,
Will bring not fortune's smile to you,
   When childhood's day will end.

Thou art a child, of promise rare;
   God, for some cause, profound,
Hath cast thee in a finer mold,
   Than most about you found.

E'en now your little high-aimed heart,
   A pris'ner seems to be,
And with impatience beats the bars,
   Of helpless infancy.

You'll bloom a rare high-minded, man;
   Surpassing fair-faced men;
Would God, the Future, held for you,
   The hope it holds for them.

Would that your path of life could be,
   Like theirs, with roses strewn:
Would that your thorns, be brushed aside,
   As often as their own.

Would that the world, which you must face,
   Were free from this low sin,
To meanly wrong a fellow-man,
   For darkness of his skin.

I look me deep into thine eyes;
   My love is mixed with grief;
To think that naught, within my power,
   Can later, bring relief.

But pure and sportive little boy,
   When time his trials lend,
Think not that you are destitute;
   In me you have a friend.

Published in Ethiope Lays, 1900

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