The Work of Afro-American Women
Hang up the harp! I hear them say,
Nor sing again an Afric lay,
The time has passed; we would forget--
And sadly now do we regret
There still remains a single trace
Of that dark shadow of disgrace,
Which tarnished long a race's fame
Until she blushed at her own name;
And now she stands unbound and free,
In that full light of liberty.
"Sing not her past!" cries out a host,
"Nor of her future stand and boast.
Oblivion be her aimed-for goal,
In which to cleanse her ethnic soul,
And coming out a creature new,
On life's arena stand in view."
But stand with no identity?
All robbed of personality?
Perhaps, this is the nobler way
To teach that wished-for brighter day.
Yet shall the good which she has done
Be silenced all and never sung?
And shall she have no inspirations
To elevate her expectations?
From singing I cannot refrain.
Please pardon this my humble strain.
85With cheeks as soft as roses are,
And yet as brown as chestnuts dark,
And eyes that borrow from a star
A tranquil yet a brilliant spark;
Or face of olive with a glow
Of carmine on the lip and cheek,
The hair in wavelets falling low,
With jet or hazel eyes that speak;
Or brow of pure Caucasian hue,
With auburn or with flaxen hair
And eyes that beam in liquid blue--
A perfect type of Saxon fair.
Behold this strange, this well-known maid,
Of every hue, of every shade!
Oh ye, her brothers, husbands, friends,
Be brave, be true, be pure and strong;
For on your manly strength depends
Her firm security from wrong.
O! let your strong right arm be bold,
And don that lovely courtesy,
Which marked the chevaliers of old.
Buttress her home with love and care,
Secure her those amenities
Which make a woman's life most dear.
Give her your warmest sympathies,
Thus high her aspirations raise
For nobler deeds in coming days.
A beautifully bound volume of poems has recently appeared under the authorship of Mrs.
86Heard. The charm of the fair author's personality runs through these verses full of poetic feeling,
bright and sparkling. And yet the closing verse holds our memory longest, and in our own humble
judgment is the gem of the collection.