(O Gentlemen the time of Life is short—Henry IV)
The bitterness of days like these we know;
Much, much we know, yet cannot understand
What was our crime that such a searing brand
Not of our choosing, keeps us hated so.
Despair and disappointment only grow,
Whatever seeds are planted from our hand,
What though some roads wind through a gladsome land?
It is a gloomy path that we must go.
And yet we know relief will come some day
For those seared breasts; and lads as brave again
Will plant and find a fairer crop than ours.
It must be due our hearts, our minds, our powers;
These are the beacons to blaze out the way.
We must plunge onward; onward, gentlemen. . . .
From Caroling Dusk (Harper & Brothers, 1927), edited by Countee Cullen. This poem is in the public domain.