Home  »  The Book of American Negro Poetry  »  The Negro Singer

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

The Negro Singer

O’ER all my song the image of a face

Lieth, like shadow on the wild sweet flowers.

The dream, the ecstasy that prompts my powers;

The golden lyre’s delights bring little grace

To bless the singer of a lowly race.

Long hath this mocked me: aye in marvelous hours,

When Hera’s gardens gleamed, or Cynthia’s bowers,

Or Hope’s red pylons, in their far, hushed place!

But I shall dig me deeper to the gold;

Fetch water, dripping, over desert miles,

From clear Nyanzas and mysterious Niles

Of love; and sing, nor one kind act withhold.

So shall men know me, and remember long,

Nor my dark face dishonor any song.