African American Poetry (1870-1927): A Digital Anthology

Richard E.S. Toomey, "Progression's Appeal" (1901)

 PROGRESSION'S APPEAL. 
 
 When to Columbia's virgin shore 
 Adventurous souls from England came, 
 The Puritans, brave hearts, came o'er 
 Where spirits quenched might burn and flame. 
 These pioneers, so hardy-souled, 
 Through ills of wood and Indian brave, 
 With hearts determined, zealous, bold, 
 Accomplished what their spirits crave. 
 Atlantic's shore soon teemed with life, 
 Crude governments protection gave. 
 These earnest souls, inured to strife, 
 Could ill brook deeds which marked them "Slave.' 
 Then gathering in "Confederate band, "
 Oppression's insults gave the cause, 
 For mutual aid they take a stand 
 'Gainst England's many unjust laws. 
 With blood, these patriots bought release, 
 Then, high-resolved, seek home once more, 
 Engage again in arts of peace; 
 Their hearts elate, the conflict o'er. 
 Now taught by "Times" the need of strength, 
 Drawn closer by that zealous band 
 Whose guidance led through war's drear length, 
 They form a nation, stable, grand. 
 Generous meed their plans adorn, 
 The State, well built, moves on amain; 
 But in its midst a system's born 
 To wring Columbia's heart with pain. 
 This system, grown like vampire dread, 
 Now seeks from fair Columbia's heart 
 The blood once rich, no longer red — 
 Makes wrath which rends the land apart. 
 
Thus reft apart, "Grim-visaged war " 
 Inspires all hearts to martial strife; 
 The conflict hangs at equal par 
 Till erstwhile slaves lay down their life. 
 Some power thundered in their soul: 
 "Who would be free must strike the blow!"
 Sweet liberty their tongues extol, 
 Its influence makes their prowess grow. 
 Such deeds of valor are performed 
 By those whose manhood is at stake, 
 In routing foes or strongholds stormed 
 That Union reigns from Gulf to Lake. 
 From discord's ashes now, the land 
 For conquest new, fresh impulse takes; 
 The North and South march hand in hand 
 To music new industry makes. 
 On purposes of peace intent 
 The calm serenity is broke, 
 Our neighbors near, by misery bent, 
 Pray us relief from Spanish yoke. 
 Straightway our brave sons fly to arms 
 (Wrought up by Spain's inhuman wrongs), 
 From desk, from bench, from towns, from farms, 
 And misery turn to joy and songs. 
 
 New deeds of glory now are ours; 
 At Luzon's shore, on Cuba's isle, 
 oth Black and White help show our powers 
 By army and by navy wile. 
 As was the case in early days, 
 There Attucks 'mong the first to fall; 
 So where Death, Bagley's daring stays, 
 Lies Tunnell pierced by Spanish ball. 
 Where Santiago stands in view, 
 
 When men, like leaves, on San Juan fell, 
 The Negro troops, brave, loyal, true, 
 Fought on through what seemed "Ambushed hell." 
 Our victories on every field 
 Bring Spain's defeat, her fightings cease; 
 Where she her cruel power did wield 
 Columbia rules and all is peace. 
 
 By deeds great strength we've shown without; 
 Let's turn our minds to ills within: 
 Put lynchings, heinous crimes, to rout 
 With righteous indignation's din. 
 Let press and pulpit lead the van, 
 These cancerous crimes to extirpate, 
 And sentiment will find some plan 
 To purge the land, enhance the state. 
 O land which our affections claim, 
 Whose aims "The Fathers "well defined, 
 Let justice deal with all, the same, 
 Accomplish thou what God designed. 
Columbia grand, adorned with might, 
 Shall not our banner stainless stream? 
 
 My countrymen, dare do the right, 
 Let law and order reign supreme! 

Published in Thoughts for True Americans, 1901

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