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Priscilla Jane Thompson

Priscilla Jane Thompson was born in 1871 in Rossmoyne, Ohio. A poet and lecturer, she taught at Sunday school at Zion Baptist Church and self-published two books of poetry, Ethiope Lays (1900) and Gleanings of Quiet Hours (1907). Her work inspired the Harlem Renaissance. She died on May 4, 1942.

By This Poet

2

Song of the Moon

Oh, a hidden power is in my breast, 
    A power that none can fathom; 
I call the tides from seas of rest, 
They rise, they fall, at my behest; 
And many a tardy fisher’s boat, 
I’ve torn apart and set afloat, 
     From out their raging chasm. 

For I’m an enchantress, old and grave; 
      Concealed I rule the weather; 
Oft set I, the lover’s heart a blaze, 
With hidden power of my fulgent rays, 
Or seek I the souls of dying men, 
And call the sea-tides from the fen,
      And drift them out together. 

I call the rain from the mountain’s peak,
     And sound the mighty thunder; 
When I wax and wane from week to week,
The heavens stir, while vain men seek,
To solve the myst’ries that I hold, 
But a bounded portion I unfold, 
     So nations pass and wonder. 

Yea, my hidden strength no man may know;
     Nor myst’ries be expounded;
I’ll cause the tidal waves to flow, 
And I shall wane, and larger grow, 
Yet while man rack his shallow brain, 
The secrets with me still remain, 
      He seeks in vain, confounded. 

Emancipation

‘Tis a time for much rejoicing;
      Let each heart be lured away;
Let each tongue, its thanks be voicing
      For Emancipation Day.
Day of victory, day of glory,
For thee, many a field was gory!

Many a time in days now ended,
      Hath our fathers’ courage failed,
Patiently their tears they blended;
      Ne’er they to their, Maker, railed,
Well we know their groans, He numbered,
When dominions fell, asundered.

As of old the Red Sea parted,
      And oppressed passed safely through,
Back from the North, the bold South, started,
      And a fissure wide she drew;
Drew a cleft of Liberty,
Through it, marched our people free.

And, in memory, ever grateful,
      Of the day they reached the shore,
Meet we now, with hearts e’er faithful,
      Joyous that the storm is o’er.
Storm of Torture! May grim Past,
Hurl thee down his torrents fast.

Bring your harpers, bring your sages,
      Bid each one the story tell;
Waft it on to future ages,
      Bid descendants learn it well.
Kept it bright in minds now tender,
Teach the young their thanks to render.

Come with hearts all firm united,
      In the union of a race;
With your loyalty well plighted,
      Look your brother in the face,
Stand by him, forsake him never,
God is with us now, forever.