Heritage

- 1902-1981

I want to see the slim palm-trees,
Pulling at the clouds
With little pointed fingers….

I want to see lithe Negro girls,
Etched dark against the sky
While sunset lingers.

I want to hear the silent sands,
Singing to the moon
Before the Sphinx-still face….

I want to hear the chanting
Around a heathen fire
Of a strange black race.

I want to breathe the Lotus flow’r,
Sighing to the stars
With tendrils drinking at the Nile….

I want to feel the surging
Of my sad people’s soul
Hidden by a minstrel-smile.

Quatrains

1
Brushes and paints are all I have
To speak the music in my soul—
While silently there laughs at me
A copper jar beside a pale green bowl.

2
How strange that grass should sing—
Grass is so still a thing ...
And strange the swift surprise of snow
So soft it falls and slow.

Sonnet 1

He came in silvern armour, trimmed with black—
A lover come from legends long ago—
With silver spurs and silken plumes a-blow,
And flashing sword caught fast and buckled back
In a carven sheath of Tamarack.
He came with footsteps beautifully slow,
And spoke in voice meticulously low.
He came and Romance followed in his track...

I did not ask his name—I thought him Love;
I did not care to see his hidden face.
All life seemed born in my intaken breath;
All thought seemed flown like some forgotten dove.
He bent to kiss and raised his visor's lace...
All eager-lipped I kissed the mouth of Death.

Sonnet 2

Some things are very dear to me—
Such things as flowers bathed by rain
Or patterns traced upon the sea
Or crocuses where snow has lain ...
the iridescence of a gem,
The moon’s cool opalescent light,
Azaleas and the scent of them,
And honeysuckles in the night.
And many sounds are also dear—
Like winds that sing among the trees
Or crickets calling from the weir
Or Negroes humming melodies.
But dearer far than all surmise
Are sudden tear-drops in your eyes.