Lieth, like shadow on the wild, sweet flowers.
The dream, the ecstasy that prompts my powers,
The golden lyre’s delights, bring little grace
To bless the singer of a lowly race.
Long hath this mocked me: aye, in marvelous hours,
When Hera’s gardens gleamed, or Cynthia’s bowers,
Or Hope’s red pylons, in their far, hushed place!
But I shall dig me deeper to the gold;
Fetch water, dripping, over desert miles
From clear Nyanzas and mysterious Niles
Of love; and sing, nor one kind act withhold.
So shall men know me, and remember long,
Nor my dark face dishonor any song.
First published in Century Illustrated Monthly Magazine, 1913
Also appears in James Weldon Johnson's Book of American Negro Poetry, 1922
Also appears in Robert Kerlin's Negro Poets and their Poems, 1923