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


I HOPE when I am dead that I shall lie

In some deserted grave—I cannot tell you why,

But I should like to sleep in some neglected spot

Unknown to every one, by every one forgot.

There lying I should taste with my dead breath

The utter lack of life, the fullest sense of death;

And I should never hear the note of jealousy or hate,

The tribute paid by passersby to tombs of state.

To me would never penetrate the prayers and tears

That futilely bring torture to dead and dying ears;

There I should lie annihilate and my dead heart would bless

Oblivion—the shroud and envelope of happiness.