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William Stanley Braithwaite

1878–1962

William Stanley Braithwaite, born December 6, 1878, was a poet, literary critic, editor, and anthologist. His books include Selected Poems (Coward-McCann, 1948), The House of Falling Leaves with Other Poems (John W. Luce & Company, 1908), and Lyrics of Life and Love (Herbert B. Turner & Company, 1904). Braithwaite was awarded the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s Arthur B. Spingarn Award for his achievements in literature. He died in his home in Harlem, New York, on June 8, 1962.

William Stanley Braithwaite
Photo credit: Carl Van Vechten © Van Vechten Trust, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University

By This Poet

8

This is My Life

To feed my soul with beauty till I die;
To give my hands a pleasant task to do;
To keep my heart forever filled anew
With dreams and wonders which the days supply;
To love all conscious living, and thereby
Respect the brute who renders up its due,
And know the world as planned is good and true—
And thus —because there chanced to be an I!

This is my life since things are as they are:
One half akin to flowers and the grass:
The rest a law unto the changeless star.
And I believe when I shall come to pass
Within the Door His hand shall hold ajar
I'll leave no echoing whisper of Alas!

The House of Death

LO, a house untenanted
Stands beside the road of Time;
They who lived there once, have fled
To some other house and clime.

Towers pointing to the sky
With long shadows on the ground,
Never shade a passerby,
Never echo back a sound.

Scintilla

I kissed a kiss in youth
   Upon a dead man’s brow;
And that was long ago,—
   And I’m a grown man now,
 
It’s lain there in the dust,
   Thirty years and more;—
My lips that set a light
   At a dead man’s door.