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

Georgia Douglas Johnson, "The Octoroon" (1919)

The Octoroon

One drop of midnight in the dawn of life’s pulsating stream
Marks her an alien from her kind, a shade amid its gleam;
Forevermore her step she bends insular, strange, apart —
And none can read the riddle of her wildly warring heart.

The stormy current of her blood beats like a mighty sea
Against the man-wrought iron bars of her captivity.
For refuge, succor, peace and rest, she seeks that humble fold
Whose every breath is kindliness, whose hearts are purest gold.

Published in The Liberator, August 1919
Also published in Bronze (1922)

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