Home  »  The Book of American Negro Poetry  »  Dusk Song

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

Dusk Song

THE GARDEN is very quiet to-night,

The dusk has gone with the Evening Star,

And out on the bay a lone ship light

Makes a silver pathway over the bar

Where the sea sings low.

I follow the light with an earnest eye,

Creeping along to the thick far-away,

Until it fell in the depths of the deep, dark sky

With the haunting dream of the dusk of day

And its lovely glow.

Long nights, long nights and the whisperings of new ones,

Flame the line of the pathway down to the sea

With the halo of new dreams and the hallow of old ones,

And they bring magic light to my love reverie

And a lover’s regret.

Tender sorrow for loss of a soft murmured word,

Tender measure of doubt in a faint, aching heart,

Tender listening for wind-songs in the tree heights heard

When you and I were of the dusks a part,

Are with me yet.

I pray for faith to the noble spirit of Space,

I sound the cosmic depths for the measure of glory

Which will bring to this earth the imperishable race

Of whom Beauty dreamed in the soul-toned story

The Prophets told.

Silence and love and deep wonder of stars

Dust-silver the heavens from west to east,

From south to north, and in a maze of bars

Invisible I wander far from the feast

As night grows old.

Half blind is my vision I know to the truth,

My ears are half deaf to the voice of the tear

That touches the silences as Autumn’s ruth

Steals thru the dusks of each returning year

A goodly friend.

The Autumn, then Winter and wintertime’s grief!

But the weight of the snow is the glistening gift

Which loving brings to the rose and its leaf,

For the days of the roses glow in the drift

And never end.

The moon has come. Wan and pallid is she.

The spell of half memories, the touch of half tears,

And the wounds of worn passions she brings to me

With all the tremor of the far-off years

And their mad wrong.

Yet the garden is very quiet to-night,

The dusk has long gone with the Evening Star,

And out on the bay the moon’s wan light

Lays a silver pathway beyond the bar,

Dear heart, pale and long.