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

Walter Everette Hawkins, "To the 'Guardian' of Boston, Mass." (1909)

To “The Guardian” of Boston, Mass. 

God called thee in a dreadful time, 
   [Thy]* race's life was crushed; 
Thy earliest note brought hope sublime. 
   When bridled tongues were hushed 
Against the wrongs ten millions face 
   With hearts bowed, bleeding, torn— 
Thou rose like Atlas with thy race 
   Upon thy shoulders borne. 

The blood of heroes spurs thee up, 
   The shades of martyrs gone 
Return to bless thy bittered cup, 
   And bid thee live — fight on; 
The spirits of the dead arise 
   Vile treason to dethrone— 
The God of all eternities 
   Still bids thee live — fight on.

And in this awful, awful hour, 
   When manhood's but a name— 
When greed of gold and lust for power 
   Have sold a race to shame, 
Great God, sustain the warrior's arm 
   Who strives in freedom's cause, 
And save a race from sordid harm 
   By Thy eternal laws. 

Our strength is tied, our tongues are still, 
   We are but free in name, 
Crushed is our pride by wrongs that chill—
   Results of slavery's shame; 
In blinding darkness still we grope, 
   Not slaves and yet not free; 
With bleeding souls in prayer and hope 
   We wait and watch for Thee. 

Great God! and shall the traitor live 
   In such an awful hour? 
O, could some hero quit the grave 
   To down deception's power! 
Up men with vengeance in your sword 
   The hypocrit to slay! 
The Harpies on his flesh shall goad, 
   And on his vitals prey. 

As "Liberator" saved the slave, 
   Thou "Guardian" guards the free—
Uncompromising, stalwart, brave, 
   And still more strong to be; 
Fight on ! the right shall yet prevail, 
   The God's are all with thee; 
The spoilor and his snares shall fail, 
   The captive shall go free. 

No base proscription tinged with greed 
   Doth curb thy upward flight; 
Not color, kindred, kind, thy creed. 
   But "Fight with might for right"; 
Thy righteous cause no bribe shall tinge— 
   How brave 'neath awful ban 
To dare to make a coward cringe, 
   And dare to be a man! 

Published in Chords and Discords, 1909

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