Posts tagged ‘1913’

Sunday, 13 November 2022

The Women’s Litany by Margaret Widdemer

Let us in through the guarded gate,
Let us in for our pain’s sake!
Lips set smiling and face made fair
Still for you through the pain we bare,
We have hid till our hearts were sore
Blacker things than you ever bore:
Let us in through the guarded gate,
Let us in for our pain’s sake!

Let us in through the guarded gate,
Let us in for our strength’s sake!
Light held high in a strife ne’er through
We have fought for our sons and you,
We have conquered a million years’
Pain and evil and doubt and tears—
Let us in through the guarded gate,
Let us in for our strength’s sake!

Let us in through the guarded gate,
Let us in for your own sake!
We have held you within our hand,
Marred or made as we broke or planned,
We have given you life or killed
King or brute as we taught or willed—
Let us in through the guarded gate,
Let us in for your own sake!

Let us in through the guarded gate,
Let us in for the world’s sake!
We are blind who must guide your eyes,
We are weak who must help you rise,
All untaught who must teach and mold
Souls of men till the world is old—
Let us in through the guarded gate,
Let us in for the world’s sake!


Date: 1913

By: Margaret Widdemer (1884-1978)

Friday, 3 December 2021

The Other Fellow’s Burden by William Allison Sweeney

An Emancipation Day Appeal for Justice

The “white man’s burden” has been told the world,
But what of the other fellow’s—
The “lion’s whelp”?
Lest you forget,
May he not lisp his?
Not in arrogance,
Not in resentment,
But that truth
May stand foursquare?
This then,
Is the Other Fellow’s Burden.
*       *       *       *       *
Brought into existence
Through the enforced connivance
Of a helpless motherhood
Misused through generations—
America’s darkest sin!—
There courses through his veins
In calm insistence—incriminating irony
Of the secrecy of blighting lust!
The best and the vilest blood
Of the South’s variegated strain;
Her statesmen and her loafers,
Her chivalry and her ruffians.
Thus bred,
His impulses twisted
At the starting point
By brutality and sensuous savagery,
Should he be crucified?
Is it a cause for wonder
If beneath his skin of many hues—
Black, brown, yellow, white—
Flows the sullen flood
Of resentment for prenatal wrong
And forced humility?
Should it be a wonder
That the muddy life current
Eddying through his arteries,
Crossed with the good and the bad,
Poisoned with conflicting emotions,
Proclaims at times,
Through no fault of his,
That for a surety the sins of fathers
Become the heritage of sons
Even to the fourth generation?
Or that murdered chastity,
That ravished motherhood—
So pitiful, so helpless,
Before the white hot,
Lust-fever of the “master”—
Has borne its sure fruit?
You mutter, “There should be no wonder.”
Well, somehow, Sir Caucasian,
Perhaps southern gentleman,
I, marked a “whelp,” am moved
To prize that muttered admission.
*       *       *       *       *
But listen, please:
The wonder is—the greater one—
That from Lexington to San Juan hill
Disloyalty never smirched
His garments, nor civic wrangle
Nor revolutionary ebullition
Marked him its follower.
A “striker”? Yes!
But he struck the insurgent
And raised the flag.
An ingrate?
A violator?
When—oh, spectacle that moved the world!
For five bloody years
Of fratricidal strife—
Red days when brothers warred—
He fed the babe,
Shielded the mother.
Guarded the doorsill
Of a million southern homes?
Penniless when freedom came? Most true;
But his accumulations of fifty years
Could finance a group of principalities.
Homeless? Yes; but the cabin and the hut
Of Lincoln’s day—uncover at that name!—
Are memories; the mansion of today,
Dowered with culture and refinement,
Sweetened by clean lives,
Is a fact.
Unlettered? Yes;
But the alumni of his schools,
Triumphant over the handicap
Of “previous condition,”
Are to be found the world over
In every assemblage inspired
By the democracy of letters.
In the casting up what appears?
The progeny of lust and helplessness,
He inherited a mottled soul—
“Damned spots” that biased the looker on.
Clothed a freeman,
Turned loose in the land
Creditless, without experience,
He often stumbled, the way being strange,
Sometimes fell.
Mocked, sneered at from every angle,
spurned, hindered in every section,
North, south, east, west,
Refused the most primitive rights,
His slightest mistakes
Made mountains of,
Hunted, burned, hanged,
The death rattle in his throat
Drowned by shouts and laughter
And—think of it!—
The glee of little children.
Still he pressed on, wrought,
Sowed, reaped, builded.
His smile ever ready,
His perplexed soul lighted
With the radiance
Of an unquenchable optimism,
God’s presence visualized,
He has risen, step by step.
To the majesty of the home builder,
Useful citizen,
Student, teacher,
Unwavering patriot.
This of the Other Fellow.
What of you, his judges and his patrons?
If it has been your wont
In your treatment of him
Not to reflect,
Or to stand by in idle unconcern
While, panting on his belly,
Ambushed by booted ruffianism,
He lapped in sublime resignation
The bitter waters
Of unreasoning intolerance,
Has not the hour of his deliverance,
Of your escape from your “other selves”
If you have erred,
Will you refuse to know it?
Has not the time arrived
To discriminate between
Those who lower
Those who raise him?
You are shamed by your abortions,
Your moral half growths
Who flee God’s eye
And stain his green earth,
But you are not judged by yours;
Should he be judged by his?
In his special case—if so, why?
Is manhood a myth,
Womanhood a toy,
Integrity unbelievable,
Honor a chimera?
Should not his boys and girls,
Mastering the curriculum of the schools,
Pricked on to attainment by the lure
Of honorable achievement,
Be given bread and not a stone
When seeking employment
In the labor mart,
At the factory gate
Or the office door?
Broadened by the spirit of the golden rule,
Will you not grant these children of Hagar
An even break?
Is the day not here, O judges,
When the Other Fellow
May be measured in fairness,
Just fairness?
*       *       *       *       *
It is written men may rise
“On their dead selves to higher things;”
But can it be that this clear note of cheer
To sodden men and smitten races
Was meant for all save him?
Chants an immortal:
“He prayeth best who loveth best
All things both great and small;
For the dear God who loveth us,
He made and loveth all.”

From: Sweeney, W. Allison, History of the American Negro in The Great World War: His Splendid Record in the Battle Zones Of Europe, 2005, Gutenberg Project: San Francisco, Chapter XXXI.

Date: 1913

By: William Allison Sweeney (1851-1921)

Wednesday, 1 December 2021

At the Closed Gate of Justice by James David Corrothers

To be a Negro in a day like this
Demands forgiveness. Bruised with blow on blow,
Betrayed, like him whose woe dimmed eyes gave bliss,
Still must one succor those who brought one low,
To be a Negro in a day like this.

To be a Negro in a day like this
Demands rare patience—patience that can wait
In utter darkness. ‘Tis the path to miss,
And knock, unheeded, at an iron gate,
To be a Negro in a day like this.

To be a Negro in a day like this
Demands strange loyalty. We serve a flag
Which is to us white freedom’s emphasis.
Ah! One must love when Truth and Justice lag,
To be a Negro in a day like this.

To be a Negro in a day like this—
Alas! Lord God, what evil have we done?
Still shines the gate, all gold and amethyst,
But I pass by, the glorious goal unwon,
“Merely a Negro”—in a day like this!

From: Guzman, Richard R. (ed), Black Writing from Chicago: In the World, Not of It?, 2006, Southern Illinois University Press: Carbondale, pp. 14-15.

Date: 1913

By: James David Corrothers (1869-1917)

Thursday, 10 December 2020

To the Fighting Weak by Margaret Steele Anderson

Stand up, you Strong! Touch glasses! To the Weak!
The Weak who fight: or habit or disease,
Birth, chance, or ignorance—or awful wreak
Of some lost forbear, who has drained the cup
Of passion and wild pleasure! So! To these.
You strong, you proud, you conquerors—stand up!

Touch glasses! You shall never drink a glass
So salt of tears, so bitter through and through,
As they must drink, who cannot hope to pass
Beyond their place of trial and of pain,
Who cannot match their trifling strength with you;
To these, touch glasses—and the glasses drain!

They cannot build, they never break the trail.
No city rises out of their desires;
They do the little task, and dare not fail
For fear of little losses—or they keep
The humble path and sit by humble fires;
They know their places—all these fighting Weak!

Yet what have you to show of tears and blood,
That mates their blood and tears? What shaft have you,
To mark the dreadful spots where you have stood.
That rises to the height of one poor stone
Proclaiming one poor triumph to the blue?
Ah, you have nothing! Then stand up and own!

And yet you shall not pity them! They bear
The stripe of some far courage that to you
Is all unknown—and you shall never wear
Such splendor as they bring to some last cup;
You do not fight the desperate fight they do;
Then—to the Weak! Touch glasses! standing up!

From: Anderson, Margaret Steele, The Flame in the Wind, 1914, John P. Morton & Company Incorporated: Louisville, Kentucky, p. 38.

Date: 1913

By: Margaret Steele Anderson (1867-1921)

Monday, 14 September 2020

Dead Man’s Land by Celia Duffin

I wandered into a dead man’s land,
A hope forgotten pointed the way,
I was too old to understand,
My lips too hard to pray.

I found an altar in the wilderness,
With offerings crowned of myrrh and spice,
I only had no power to bless,
Nor any bread for sacrifice.

I saw a figure silent with his prayer
Stoop at the altar steps to kiss the spot ;
Then my dead youth passed down the stair,
Passed by, and knew me not.

From: Duffin, Ruth and Celia, The Secret Hill: Poems, 1913, Maunsel & Company, Ltd: Dublin and London, p. 47.

Date: 1913

By: Celia Duffin (1887-1983)

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Ailill and Etain by Ruth Duffin

I am wasted with longing and sorrow,
My desire is as long as a year.
O Death, if I may not possess her,
Let me feel the grey edge of thy spear.

Lying here, without strength, without courage,
My thoughts are with former things—
When I rode through the mists of November
To feast in the Hall of the Kings.

At the bidding of Eochaid, my brother,
We gathered his bridal to greet;
We drank to the joy of his wedding
In mead honey-golden and sweet.

As we sat, fell a hush on the laughter,
The doors of red pine were flung wide,
And a shout went up to the heavens
For Eochaid, the King, and his bride.

In her eyes was the glamour of wooing,
Her hands were the snow of a night,
Like the foam of a wave was her body,
In each cheek was a dimple’s delight.

I gazed, and my heart was shaken
With desire and wonder and pain;
Silent I stood ‘mid the shouting,
My eyes on the eyes of Etain.

Their light in my heart made darkness,
Their joy was an arrow that stings,
As back through the mists of November,
I rode from the Hall of the Kings.

I have given my soul to an echo;
Love seems, on the slope of the grave,
A lonely fight with a shadow,
The spending of grief on a wave.

From: Duffin, Ruth and Celia, The Secret Hill: Poems, 1913, Maunsel & Company, Ltd: Dublin and London, pp. 12-13.

Date: 1913

By: Ruth Duffin (1877-1968)

Friday, 2 March 2018

Honesty by George Henry Borrow

No wonder honesty’s a lasting article,
Seeing that people seldom use a particle.

From: Borrow, George, Grimmer and Kamper, The End of Sivard Snarenswayne and Other Ballads, 1913, Private Circulation: London, p. 27.

Date: 1913 (published)

By: George Henry Borrow (1803-1881)

Monday, 4 August 2014

The Unknown God by George William Russell (A.E.)

Far up the dim twilight fluttered
Moth-wings of vapour and flame:
The lights danced over the mountains,
Star after star they came.

The lights grew thicker unheeded,
For silent and still were we;
Our hearts were drunk with a beauty
Our eyes could never see.


Date: 1913

By: George William Russell (A.E.) (1867-1935)

Monday, 3 February 2014

The Mob by Ada Cambridge

Why stand dumbfounded and aghast,
As at invading armies sweeping by,
Surprised by haggard face and threatening cry,
The storm unheralded, that rose so fast?
Men, with gaunt wives and hungry children, cast
Upon the wintry streets to thieve or die,
They cannot always suffer silently;
Patience gives out. The poor worm turns at last.

And no ear listens to the warning call.
No eye awakes to see the portent dread.
Must brute force reign and social order fall
Ere these starved millions can be clothed and fed?
A strange phenomenon, this, unconcern –
To live so fast and be so slow to learn!

From: Cambridge, Ada, The Hand in the Dark: and Other Poems, 1913, William Heinemann: London, p. 117.

Date: 1913

By: Ada Cambridge (1844-1926)

Monday, 18 November 2013

Song by Winifred Mary Letts

If you let Sorrow in on you.
Surely she’ll stay,
Sitting there by the hearth
Till you wish her away.

If you see the grey cloak of her
Down the boreen,
Let you close the door softly
And wait there unseen.

For if she comes in on you
Never you’ll part,
Till the fire burns out
In the core of your heart.

From: Letts, W M, Songs From Leinster, 1920, John Murray: London, p. 101.

Date: 1913

By: Winifred Mary Letts (1882-1972)