Mr. Africa Poetry Lounge!

To Poets Who Have Rebelled

Decry, as you must, this frenzied world,
Thunder your wrath around the curve of earth
That flesh must cry of hunger, breeding flesh
To feed the mouth of flame. Decry the lean
Of lips to lips unclean, the sodden streets
And hunger-twisted children, and all the shame
And ugliness of greed and hate.

Hail, as you must, a tractored and turbined world
To lift the pressing earth from weary backs
And let men turn face outward to the sky
Filling their horny hands with golden air;

But let your throats ache double
With the cry of beauty here and now,
When the hand clings to the root
And the forearm guides the plow,
And the heart marks common pulse
With time beating through the sky.

Hail, if you must, your barricades,
Your enemy thwarted, and you and they
Lying in piles of carrion-food
Where once were laughing voices;

But take not from man's eyes
The flash of blade on wet grass
Nor from his ears the swish of the sickle.

Whatever is good
Does not always cry with the color of banners
Or shout with the thunder of drums,
Or rush on wings of cannon-
It sometimes descends, slowly, as night
Or grows in silence as the lifting dawn.

Whatever is good is not more
Than the world-shaking event
Of planting a rose,
Or plucking a truant weed,
Or watching a chimney-swallow after rain
Patiently restoring its nest.

Whatever is good lies at the core
Of the clean brown soil,
When a man smelling of earthiness
Looks at the sun through mist
And says to himself,
"Tomorrow brings rain for the young corn,
Tomorrow the apple trees will blossom;
That is good."

Let it suffice for a moment
If a man can stand in the wind
Seeing gold in the wheat-fields,
Hearing a chorus of corn-leaves
And whisper, "Life is good."

Let it be enough for the moment
If he can race with a cloud to a hilltop,
And throwing himself on a grass-mound
Lay his lips to warm earth.

New York, February 1938

Written by Pauli Murray (1910-1985)


Mr. Africa Poetry Lounge