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

Time to Die

BLACK brother, think you life so sweet

That you would live at any price?

Does mere existence balance with

The weight of your great sacrifice?

Or can it be you fear the grave

Enough to live and die a slave?

O Brother! be it better said,

When you are gone and tears are shed,

That your death was the stepping stone

Your children’s children cross’d upon.

Men have died that men might live:

Look every foeman in the eye!

If necessary, your life give

For something, ere in vain you die.