Is Douglas dead?
That grand old man, that pleasant face,
That mirrored idol of the Negro Race!
Has he been struck from foremost rank,
Into earth’s dusty apron sank
And no one to take his place?
Yea forbid that the winds should mourn,
Or on zephyr’s timely wings be borne
That word: For death in silent tread,
Would loath to disgrace that honored head
By writing ’bove it “He is dead:”
For he lives.
And every hour that wings away,
Prolongs his life another day.
For sure the flower from its stalk,
May drop and wither upon the walk,
Yet lives to bloom again that stalk:
So Douglas lives.
He tho’ a plant of the tropics, grew
In America to live and do;
And did he it, and did it well,
True until his gray hairs fell.
Of a greater man, no records tell,
And still he lives.
Tho’ kind old mother earth, perhap,
Doth rock him gently in her lap,
His slumber is sweetest rest:
Gray hairs float on his mother’s breast:
Yet speak not of him, but as the best,
For still he lives.
And up this barrier wall of life,
His deed amid the storm and strife,
Doth, clutching, climb on like the vine,
Around each rock some tendrils twine,
Till blossom they in warm sunshine
To never die.
No, never, tho’ that aged head
Be lulled to sleep—but one was made,
And making him, was made a cleft
In earth, and not a remnant left,
From which another might be made.
So sleep on thou aged blest,
Thy work is done, so take thy rest.
For bear, O winds, to murmur aught
But praise for mighty deeds he wrought!
Rock gently in thy orb, O earth,
Frey not him of humble birth,
But let him rest.
Stoop down, O heaven, kiss his brow,
For oft before thee did he bow;
Let holy angels watch his grave,
And ne’er let man forget the brave,
The good, the noble, humble slave
Who rose to highest fame.
From Jessamine (Self published, 1900) by James Thomas Franklin. Copyright © 1900 by James Thomas Franklin. This poem is in the public domain.