From “American Negro Poetry” An Anthology edited by Anna Nontemps.
Georgia Douglas Johnson
My Pathway lies through worse than death;
I met the hours with bated breath.
My red blood boils, my pulses thrill,
I life life running up hill.
Ah, no, I need no paltry play
of make-shift tilts for holiday:
For I was born against the tide
and I must conquer that denied.
I shun no hardship, fear no foe;
The future calls and I must go:
I charge the line and dare the spheres
As I go fighting down the years.
If We Must Die.
If we must die-let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursed lot.
If we must die-oh let us nobly die,
That out precious blood may not be shed
In vain;then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
Oh, Kinsmen! We must meet the common foe;
Though far outnumbered, let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back.
Gwendolyn B. Bennett
I shall hate you
Like a dart of singing steel
Shot through still air
As pines are sober
When they stand etched Against the sky.
Hating you shall be a game
Played with cool hands
And slim fingers.
Your heart will yearn
For the lonely splendor
Of the pine tree;
While rekindled fired
In my eyes
Shall wound you like swift arrows.
Memory will lay it’s hands
Upon your breast
And you will understand