Olivia Ward Bush-Banks' Original Poems and Driftwood

The Tide Surges

The Tide Surges


We suffer and ye know it not,
Nor yet can ever know,
What depth of bitterness is ours,
Or why we suffer so;--

If we would know what anguish lay,
Ask of the dark-skinneo race,
Ay! Ask of him who loves to know
The color of his face.

Then plead as he has often pled
For manhood among men,
And feel the pain of rights denied;
Thou canst not know till then.

Or share with him for one brief space,
Ambition's fond desire,
Reach out, and strive, as he has striven,
And aim for something higher.

Let knowledge cultivate, refine,
Let culture feed the mind,
Then fondly dream of hopes fulfilled,
And dreaming wake to find;--

That merit worth or patient toil
Does not suffice to win.
Then learn the cause of this defeat,
The color of the skin.

The mother of the dusky babe,
Surveys with aching heart
Bright prospects, knowing all the while,
Her off-spring shares no part.

The child attains to manhood's years,
Still conscious of the same,
While others boast of Life's success,
He knows it but in name.

Yes, aim, reach out, aspire and strive
And know, "Twere all in vain,
And e'en in Freedom's name appeal,
Then ye can sense our pain.

We suffer and ye know it not,
Nor yet can ever know,
What depth of bitterness is ours,
Or why we suffer so.

The Nation's Evil

A sound is heard throughout our land,
A moaning, yearning, pleading cry;
"O mighty Arm of Right stretch forth,
Crush out our hopeless misery.
I see a weary dark-skinned race
Bend low beneath Oppression's weight,
I hear their off-spring wailing out,
O, "Save us from our father's fate!"

I see a fierce, blood-thirsty mob,
Add torture to a quivering frame.
I hear an agonizing cry
Hushed by the cruel fiery flame.
I see the home left desolate,
I see a father forced to die,
I hear a mother's anguished groan,
I hear their children's piteous cry.

How long I ask shall these things be?
How long shall men have hearts of stone?
My soul grown sick and faint within,
Cries out in supplicating tone,
"Great God, send forth thy swift demand,
Declare this evil shall not be,
That man give justice unto man,
And cease this inhumanity."

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