TWO LYRICS FROM THE BLACK SPEAR
(A serive of poems in progresses on the Negro and White heroes of tht
anti-slavery struggle and Civil War.) 0# By Robert Hayden
And now the words for which the fathers bled
return to storm their children's souls
with questions darker than Iscariot's
"Lord, its it I?"
What is this liberty?
Is it so small a house,
though builded by so many hands?
Is it so barren a field,
though planted with so many lives?
Oh, answer, answer,
slave with the Indian arrow
through your heart;
Oh, answer, answer,
Crispus Attucks, dark genesis
of Revolution's morning.
brutalized, bartered, dispossessed
of al lexcept that desperate, fire-beautiful wish
moulding the earth, shattering the earth
these million years,
Oh, answer them.
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Walt Whitman, keeping vigil strange
upon the battlefield,
superb in sorrow moving
across those fields unnatural with war,
to tend with epic hands of pity
a nation's wounds-
Walt Whitman, did you see him there-
The dying fugitive slave, my ancestor,
(Indian eyes and lean brown hickory body),
who'd stolen from his secret mountain home,
a shotgun under his arm, a dusty sprig
of mountain laurel in his bearskin cap,
to join Abe Lincoln's men?
And di you kneel to wash the blood away
that scalded vision from his eyes,
and ease the bladed dark with talk
of freedom walking whirlwinds toward the sun.?
Oh, he was worthy of your proudest singing,
for he was of those mocked and outcast hosts
who helped your Captain bring his ship to haven;
who sowed deep with their bodies' death
seeds that should grow and feed the sinews of
our giant hope of liberty ...
Oh, give me your deathless lilacs,
Walt Whitman, chanter of man,
to lay upon my sire's unhonored grave.
-Robert E. Hayden
NO NEW DESPAIR
It passes, yes, the clean young flesh,
And this is known and has been known,
By all the young and all the old;
The record has been cut in stone,
This is no new despair you feel,
But old, a heritage of bone.
Then are you ready for farewell,
Or for the break without the word,
Young flesh? Have you not known enough,
Have you not seen and felt and heard
More than the rock in all its years,
That stood and stands, and is not stirred?
SOLILOQUY AT NIGHT
(Je pense; donc je suis.)
Not mind alone, nor body, is this I
That walks the coffin earth-for flesh is dead
Without electric gaze to vivivy
The bulb God made for delicate dread.
'The search vor Him illumines every need
To corridors, though exit marks the place
Where, button pressed, slinks out kidnapping greed
And candour ransoms vrom the dark our grace.
My will screwed in the socket ov His love
Burns with ten or hundred watt desire
Until short circuit none had warning of
Makes light withdraw from glass whose every wire
It filled-and shining still, cry out its goal-
Perfection of us both-body and soul!