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

Sandy Star and Willie Gee

SANDY STAR and Willie Gee,

Count ’em two, you make ’em three:

Pluck the man and boy apart

And you’ll see into my heart.



Sculptured Worship

The zones of warmth around his heart,

No alien airs had crossed;

But he awoke one morn to feel

The magic numbness of autumnal frost.

His thoughts were a loose skein of threads,

And tangled emotions, vague and dim;

And sacrificing what he loved

He lost the dearest part of him.

In sculptured worship now he lives,

His one desire a prisoned ache;

If he can never melt again

His very heart will break.

Laughing It Out

He had a whim and laughed it out

Upon the exit of a chance;

He floundered in a sea of doubt—

If life was real—or just romance.

Sometimes upon his brow would come

A little pucker of defiance;

He totalled in a word the sum

Of all man made of facts and science.

And then a hearty laugh would break,

A reassuring shrug of shoulder;

And we would from his fancy take

A faith in death which made life bolder.


No, his exit by the gate

Will not leave the wind ajar;

He will go when it is late

With a misty star.

One will call, he cannot see;

One will call, he will not hear;

He will take no company

Nor a hope or fear.

We shall smile who loved him so—

They who gave him hate will weep;

But for us the winds will blow

Pulsing through his sleep.

The Way

He could not tell the way he came,

Because his chart was lost

Yet all his way was paved with flame

From the bourne he crossed.

He did not know the way to go,

Because he had no map

He followed where the winds blow,—

And the April sap.

He never knew upon his brow

The secret that he bore,—

And laughs away the mystery now

The dark’s at his door.

Onus Probandi

No more from out the sunset,

No more across the foam,

No more across the windy hills

Will Sandy Star come home.

He went away to search it

With a curse upon his tongue:

And in his hand the staff of life,

Made music as it swung.

I wonder if he found it,

And knows the mystery now—

Our Sandy Star who went away,

With the secret on his brow.