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

The Easter Light (Clara Ann Thompson)

'Tis Lent, the holy time of fast and prayer;
   Of meditation and repentant tear;
When saints bow humbly 'neath the cross they bear,
   Treading the path of duty, without fear.
But one remains within her quiet room,
   And looks with sadness, out upon the town;
Lent brings her nothing, to dispel the gloom,
   That hovers o'er her path, and bears her down.
What matter, it the bells chime sweetly, now,
   Calling the many worshipers to prayer?
No holy light breaks o'er that clouded brow,
   She does not care to mingle with them, there.
Into her life, the hand of Death has come,
   Bearing her truest, best beloved, away; 
And now, her heart, all wretched and forlorn,
   Is crying out to Death, incessantly: —
"Oh Death ! give back my best beloved again;
    Give back my own, thou heartless, tyrant, king!
 Seest thou my bleeding heart, all rent in twain,
    And carest thou not, that thou hast done this thing?"
"Tis Easter morn ; the lenten fast is o'er;
    A risen Savior bids the glad world sing;
The grave is open ; Death has pow'r no more,
    For Christ has robbed him of his deadly sting.
The church is crowded with a happy throng ;
   O'er banks of flow'rs, the softened sunbeams play;
The choir bursts forth, in glad, triumphant, song:
   "O earth, rejoice ! The Lord is ris'n today."
A dark-eyed girl comes slowly down the aisle,
   Her face marked deep, with bitterness and pain;
The choir is singing joyfully, the while,
   "Rejoice, rejoice! for death has ceased to reign."
The maiden lists the song, half bitterly, —
   "Well may they sing, they've never wept in vain,
They've ne'er had cause to ask, unceasingly,
   'Where shall I find my lost beloved again."
But listen ! one is singing all alone;
   Her rich voice, welling up so full and clear,
Throbs ever, with a sad, sweet, undertone.
   Telling, she, too, has met some trial here.
And now her voice sinks soft as falling dew;
   Now rising high, it seems to pierce the dome ;
The undertone e'er throbbing sweet and true —
   She, too, has suffered, but has overcome.
She sings today, that some o'erburdened heart,
   May find the light that shines within her own;
The maiden listens — ah! the hot tears start,
   And melts the ice, that o'er her heart has grown.
The thoughtless ones gaze at her, wond'ringly;
   'How can she weep, when all the world is bright?'
While others gaze, with kindly sympathy,
   Knowing her heart has found the Easter light.

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