Women of the Early Harlem Renaissance: African American Women Writers 1900-1922

A Picture (by Olivia Ward Bush)

I drew a picture long ago --
   A picture of a sullen sea;
A picture that I value now
   Because it clears Life's mystery.

My sea was dark and full of gloom;
   I painted rocks of sombre hue.
My sky alone bespoke of light,
   And that I painted palest blue.

But e'en across my sky of blue
   Stretched troubled clouds of sodden gray,
Through which the sun shone weak and dim,
   With only here and there a ray. 

Around my rocks the yellow foam
   Seemed surging, moaning in despair
As if the waves, their fury spent,
   Left naught but desolation there.

Three crafts with fluttering sails I drew,
   And one sailed near the rocks of gray,
The other on its westward course,
   Went speeding out of danger's way.

The other still outdistanced them
   Where sky and water seemed to meet.
I painted that with sails full set,
   And then my picture was complete.

My life was like the sullen sea,
   Misfortune's woes, my rocks of gray;
The crafts portrayed Life's changing scenes,
   The clouded sky Life's troubled Day. 

I long to paint that picture o'er,
   Without the rocks of sombre hue;
Without the troubled clouds of gray,
   I'll paint the sky of brightest blue.

My sea shall lay in calm repose,
   No hint of surging, moaning sigh.
My crafts, unhindered by the rocks,
   shall speed in joyous swiftness by.

But this will be when brightest hours
   Of hope and cheer are given me.
I'll paint this picture when Life's sun
   Shines clear upon Prosperity. 

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