Most things are colorful things—the sky, earth, and sea.
Black men are most men; but the white are free!
White things are rare things; so rare, so rare
They stole from out a silvered world—somewhere.
Finding earth-plains fair plains, save greenly grassed,
They strewed white feathers of cowardice, as they passed;
The golden stars with lances fine
The hills all red and darkened pine,
They blanched with their wand of power;
And turned the blood in a ruby rose
To a poor white poppy-flower.
They pyred a race of black, black men,
And burned them to ashes white; then
Laughing, a young one claimed a skull.
For the skull of a black is white, not dull,
But a glistening awful thing;
Made it seems, for this ghoul to swing
In the face of God with all his might,
And swear by the hell that siréd him:
"Man-maker, make white!"
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on September 29, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“White Things” was published in The Crisis in March 1923.
An important figure of the Harlem Renaissance, Anne Spencer was born on February 6, 1882, in Henry County, Virginia and graduated from the Virginia Seminary in Lynchburg in 1899.
Date Published: 1923-03-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/white-things