Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE AMERICAN BLACK (A STUDY IN RACE CONSCIOUSNESS), by GEORGE HERBERT CLARKE



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THE AMERICAN BLACK (A STUDY IN RACE CONSCIOUSNESS), by            
First Line: Night! Night! / and of the dawn no promise. Wrong is right
Last Line: And dream of freedom that is not a name.
Subject(s): African Americans; Freedom; Pain; Slavery; United States - Race Relations; Negroes; American Blacks; Liberty; Suffering; Misery; Serfs


NIGHT! Night!
And of the dawn no promise. Wrong is right,
And right is wrong!

Long, long ago, ah long,
I roamed the forests vast and awful, bending
Around me with their leafy aisles unending,
And smelt their dense sweet savours many a league,
And fought or loved their Shadows silent-striding
Without a fear; or, when a hard fatigue
Befell, would sink to utter sleep, confiding
In the fierce gods o' the Jungle I confest;
Ah, that delicious, peaceful, dreamless rest!

No hubbub of the kraal-folk now I hear,
No spear-songs, no war-music wild and thrilling;
Not now I shoot the arrow, hurl the spear,
And rush with warrior-rage unto the killing;—
The Old is dead,
Or, if it live perchance,
It dwells in the so distant battle-dance
Unfindable again, and poisoned lance
With foe's blood wet and red,
That into Past and Place its ghost has vanishéd.

Instead,—
Instead,—
White faces, houses, streets; white ways, white works;
Faces that frown and yet are not unkind,
Faces that smile where yet no kindness lurks,
(The gods were angry or were gracious, one!)
Houses that wear a shutter and a blind,
Streets all alike, and work that 's never done—
Work endless, pitiless, that craves and craves
Slaves for its worshippers, themselves its slaves:
Work without aim or meaning, save to breed
Money, the mother of more work, and greed,
Its father; work whose drudging devotees
Bear heavy loads with harness on their back,
The white men's golden, and we black men's black,
And none has joy or ease:
The poor seek riches, and the rich seek more,
And both must have our service, hard and sore;—
And so we serve and share not, nor rebel,
(For one must suffer when he is in hell)
And wear the yoke with silent, sullen shame,
And dream of Freedom that is not a name.





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