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


SO much have I forgotten in ten years,

So much in ten brief years; I have forgot

What time the purple apples come to juice

And what month brings the shy forget-me-not;

Forgotten is the special, startling season

Of some beloved tree’s flowering and fruiting,

What time of year the ground doves brown the fields

And fill the noonday with their curious fluting:

I have forgotten much, but still remember

The poinsettia’s red, blood-red in warm December.

I still recall the honey-fever grass,

But I cannot bring back to mind just when

We rooted them out of the ping-wing path

To stop the mad bees in the rabbit pen.

I often try to think in what sweet month

The languid painted ladies used to dapple

The yellow bye road mazing from the main,

Sweet with the golden threads of the rose-apple:

I have forgotten, strange, but quite remember

The poinsettia’s red, blood-red in warm December.

What weeks, what months, what time o’ the mild year

We cheated school to have our fling at tops?

What days our wine-thrilled bodies pulsed with joy

Feasting upon blackberries in the copse?

Oh, some I know! I have embalmed the days,

Even the sacred moments, when we played,

All innocent of passion uncorrupt,

At noon and evening in the flame-heart’s shade:

We were so happy, happy,—I remember

Beneath the poinsettia’s red in warm December.