The Burdens of All

A Poem by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

We may sigh o’er the heavy burdens
   Of the black, the brown and white;
But if we all clasped hands together
   The burdens would be more light.
How to solve life’s saddest problems,
   Its weariness, want and woe,
Was answered by One who suffered
   In Palestine long ago.

He gave from his heart this precept,
   To ease the burdens of men,
“As ye would that others do to you
   Do ye even so to them.”
Life’s heavy, wearisome burdens
   Will change to a gracious trust
When men shall learn in the light of God
   To be merciful and just.

Where war has sharpened his weapons,
   And slavery masterful had,
Let white and black and brown unite
   To build the kingdom of God.
And never attempt in madness
   To build a kingdom or state,
Through greed of gold or lust of power,
   On the crumbling stones of hate.

The burdens will always he heavy,
   The sunshine fade into night,
Till mercy and justice shall cement
   The black, the brown and the white.
And earth shall answer with gladness,
   The herald angel’s refrain,
When “Peace on earth, good will to men”
   Was the burden of their strain.

The Plains of Peace

A Poem by Olivia Ward Bush-Banks

Again my fancy takes its flight,
And soars away on thoughtful wing,
Again my soul thrills with delight,
And this the fancied theme, I sing,
From Earthly scenes awhile, I find release,
And dwell upon the restful Plains of Peace.

The Plains of Peace are passing fair,
Where naught disturbs and naught can harm,
I find no sorrow, woe or care,
These all are lost in perfect calm,
Bright are the joys, and pleasures never cease,
For those who dwell on the Plains of Peace.

No scorching sun or blighting storm,
No burning sand or desert drear,
No fell disease or wasting form,
To mar the glowing beauty here.
Decay and ruin ever must decrease,
Here on the fertile, healthful Plains of Peace.

What rare companionship I find,
What hours of social joy I spend,
What restfulness pervades my mind,
Communing with congenial friend.
True happiness seems ever to increase,
While dwelling here upon the Plains of Peace.

Ambitions too, are realized,
And that which I have sought on earth,
I find at last idealized,
My longings ripen into worth,
My fondest hopes no longer fear decease,
But bloom forth brightly on the Plains of Peace.

‘Tis by my fancy, yet ’tis true,
That somewhere having done with Earth,
We shall another course pursue,
According to our aim or worth,
Our souls from mortal things must find release,
And dwell immortal on the Plains of Peace.


A Poem by William Stanley Braithwaite

I am glad daylong for the gift of song,
For time and change and sorrow;
For the sunset wings and the world-end things
Which hang on the edge of to-morrow.
I am glad for my heart whose gates apart
Are the entrance-place of wonders,
Where dreams come in from the rush and din
Like sheep from the rains and thunders.

If I Had Known

A Poem by Alice Dunbar-Nelson

     If I had known
Two years ago how drear this life should be,
And crowd upon itself all-strangely sad,
Mayhap another song would burst from out my lips,
Overflowing with the happiness of future hopes;
Mayhap another throb than that of joy.
Have stirred my soul into its inmost depths,
                                    If I had known.

     If I had known,
Two years ago the impotence of love,
The vainness of a kiss, how barren a caress,
Mayhap my soul to higher things have soarn,
Nor clung to earthly loves and tender dreams,
But ever up aloft into the blue empyrean,
And there to master all the world of mind,
                                    If I had known

A Prayer

A Poem by Joseph Seamon Cotter, Jr.

As I lie in bed,
Flat on my back;
There passes across my ceiling
An endless panorama of things—
Quick steps of gay-voiced children,
Adolescence in its wondering silences,
Maid and man on moonlit summer’s eve,
Women in the holy glow of Motherhood,
Old men gazing silently thru the twilight
Into the beyond.
O God, give me words to make my dream-children live.

A Belgian Christmas

A Poem by Madison Julius Cawein

The “happy year” of 1914

An hour from dawn:
The snow sweeps on
As it swept with sleet last night:
The Earth around
Breathes never a sound,
Wrapped in its shroud of white.

A waked cock crows
Under the snows;
Then silence. After while
The sky grows blue,
And a star looks through
With a kind o’ bitter smile.

A whining dog;
An axe on a log,
And a muffled voice that calls:
A cow’s long low;
Then footsteps slow
Stamping into the stalls.

A bed of straw
Where the wind blows raw
Through cracks of the stable door:
A child’s small cry,
A voice nearby,
That says, “One mouth the more.”

A different note
In a man’s rough throat
As he turns at an entering tread
Satyrs! see!
“My woman she
Was brought last night to bed!”

A cry of”Halt!”
“Ach! ich bin kalt!”
“A spy!””No.””That is clear!
There’s a good shake-down
I’ the jail in town
For her!” And then, “My orders here.”

A shot, sharp-rolled
As the clouds unfold:
A scream; and a cry forlorn…
Clothed red with fire,
Like the Heart’s Desire,
Look down the Christmas Morn.

The babe with light
Is haloed bright,
And it is Christmas Day:
A cry of woe;
Then footsteps slow,
And the wild guns, far away.

An Epitaph on the Admirable Dramaticke Poet, W. Shakespeare

A Poem by John Milton

What neede my Shakespeare for his honour`d bones
The labour of an Age in piled stones,
Or that his hallow`d Reliques should be hid
Under a star-ypointing Pyramid?

Dear Sonne of Memory, great Heire of Fame,
What needst thou such dull witness of thy Name?
Thou in our wonder and astonishment
Hast built thyself a lasting Monument:
For whilst, to the shame of slow endevouring Art,
Thy easie numbers flow, and that each heart
Hath from the leaves of thy unvalued Booke
Those Delphicke Lines with deep Impression tooke;
Then thou, our fancy of herself bereaving,
Dost make us Marble with too much conceiving;
And, so Sepulcher`d, i n such pompe dost lie,
That Kings for such a Tombe would wish to die.