For Paul Laurence Dunbar
Born of the sorrowful of heart,
Mirth was a crown upon his head;
Pride, kept his twisted lips apart
In jest, to hide a heart that bled.
This poem is in the public domain.
(For Carl Van Vechten)
Once riding in old Baltimore,
Heart-filled, head-filled with glee,
I saw a Baltimorean
Keep looking straight at me.
Now I was eight and very small,
And he was no whit bigger,
And so I smiled, but he poked out
His tongue and called me, “Nigger.”
For my Grandmother
This lovely flower fell to seed;
Work gently sun and rain;
She held it as her dying creed
That she would grow again.
For John Keats, Apostle of Beauty