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

Sterling A. Brown, "Salutamus" (1927)


("O Gentlemen the time of Life is short "---Henry IV)

The bitterness of days like these we know;
Much, much we know, yet cannot understand
What was our crime that such a searing brand
Not of our choosing, keeps us hated so.
Despair and disappointment only grow,
Whatever seeds are planted from our hand,
What though some roads wind through a gladsome land?
It is a gloomy path that we must go.
And yet we know relief will come some day
For these seared breasts; and lads as brave again
Will plant and find a fairer crop than ours.
It must be due our hearts, our minds, our powers;
These are the beacons to blaze out the way.
We must plunge onward; onward, gentlemen. ...

Published in Caroling Dusk, 1927

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