Within a native hut, ere stirred the dawn,
Unto the Pure One was an Infant born
Wrapped in blue lappah that his mother dyed.
Laid on his father’s home-tanned deer-skin hide
The babe still slept by all things glorified.
Spirits of black bards burst their bonds and sang,
“Peace upon earth” until the heavens rang.
All the black babies who from earth had fled,
Peeped through the clouds, then gathered round His
Telling of things a baby needs to do,
When first he opens his eyes on wonders new;
Telling Him that to sleep was sweeter rest,
All comfort came from His black mother’s breast.
Their gifts were of Love caught from the springing sod,
Whilst tears and laughter were the gifts of God.
Then all the wis men of the past stood forth
Filling the air East, West, and South and North;
And told him of the joys that wisdom brings
To mortals in their earthly wanderings.
The children of the past shook down each bough,
Wreathed Frangepani blossoms for His brow;
They put pink lilies in His mother’s hand,
And heaped for both the first fruits of the land.
His father cut some palm fronds that the air
Be coaxed to zephyrs while He rested there.
Birds trilled their hallelujahs; and the dew
Trembled with laughter till the babe laughed too.
All the black women brought their love so wise,
And kissed their motherhood into his mother’s eyes.


From Caroling Dusk (Harper & Brothers, 1927), edited by Countee Cullen. This poem is in the public domain.