“I can remember when I was a little, young girl, how my old mammy would sit out of doors in the evenings and look up at the stars and groan, and I would say, ‘Mammy, what makes you groan so?’ And she would say, ‘I am groaning to think of my poor children; they do not know where I be and I don’t know where they be. I look up at the stars and they look up at the stars!’”
I think I see her sitting bowed and black,
Stricken and seared with slavery’s mortal scars,
Reft of her children, lonely, anguished, yet
Still looking at the stars.
Symbolic mother, we thy myriad sons,
Pounding our stubborn hearts on Freedom’s bars,
Clutching our birthright, fight with faces set,
Still visioning the stars!
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on February 24, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“Oriflamme” appeared in the January 1920 issue of the magazine The Crisis.
Jessie Redmon Fauset
Jessie Redmon Fauset, born in 1882, played a crucial role in the Harlem Renaissance during her time as literary editor of The Crisis.
Date Published: 1920-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/oriflamme