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

William Pickens, "'The Crisis'" (1914)

Thou quiv’ring tongue of fire!
    Bring to our land a Pentecost,
The hearts of men inspire
To gain once more the freedom they have lost.
And fire with pristine courage sire and son,
Burn on. 
Thou flaring sheet of flame!
Burn like a startling come of high,
Forewarning in God’s name
And writing truth on our deceptive sky
Whose quiet aspect has another mien 
Thou whetted sword of truth!
Thou brandished sword make tyrants shake,
But stalwart men and youth
From the oppressed are rising up to break
The bonds of bondage and the bars of caste.
At last.
Thou freedoms clarion call!
Wake the oppressed, ring in their ears,
Call them to rally all
As one, unite their strength, shake off their fears,
And fight till freedom’s battles are won– 
Call on!
Thou mighty “still, small voice!”
Speak on till thou art clearly heard!
Let the oppressed rejoice
And the oppressor tremble at thy word,
Until the truth is known and justice is done
Speak on!

Published in The Crisis. May 1914 
Retyped by Christian Farrior

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