African American Poetry (1870-1926): A Digital Anthology

Walter Everett Hawkins, "Child of the Night" (1924)

Child of the Night am I-
Night's sable son;
When the elf-children came,
   Lo! I was one.

Darkness was over me when I was born,
I court the night-spirits and scoff at the morn,
Rainbows of midnight my features adorn.
   At the great forge of Time,
   Making men's souls sublime,
   I stood arrayed in Night
   Ere light was born.

   Poised on the wings of Night,
      Upward I glide,
   Flouting the flings of light,
      Proudly I ride.

I rest on the pillows of thunderous clouds,
Arrayed in the billows of wondrous shrouds,
I whip up the lightnings and mock the pale crowds.

   At the great forge of Time,
   Making men's souls sublime,
   I stood arrayed in Night
      Ere light was born.
   Blessing the sable sons,
      Lifting their shroud,
   Pressing less able ones,
      Purging the proud.

I daub them with ebony, smother their pride,
I swab them with smoke and their vanity chide.
Is the soul of a man in the hue of his hide?

   At the great forge of Time
   Making men's souls sublime,
   I stood arrayed in Night
      Ere light was born.
   Child of the dusky veil,
      Kissed by the Sun,
   Girded in trusty mail,
      Truth bids me on.

Cloud me in battle smoke, night-shrouds attend me,
The beginning was blackness and so will the end be;
Black God and black angels, surround and defend me!

   At the great forge of Time,
   Making men's souls sublime,
   I stood arrayed in Night
      Ere light was born.


Published in The Crisis, April 1924

This page has tags: