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James Weldon Johnson, ed. (1871–1938). The Book of American Negro Poetry. 1922.

Dead Fires

IF this is peace, this dead and leaden thing,

Then better far the hateful fret, the sting.

Better the wound forever seeking balm

Than this gray calm!

Is this pain’s surcease? Better far the ache,

The long-drawn dreary day, the night’s white wake,

Better the choking sigh, the sobbing breath

Than passion’s death!