Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Paul Laurence Dunbar and Georgia Douglas Johnson, two poets you should know

"Your world is as big as you make it."
--Georgia Douglas Johnson

“I know why the caged bird sings, ah me, when his wing is bruised and his bosom sore; when he beats his bars and he would be free, it is not a carol of joy or glee, but a prayer that he sends from his heart's deep core.”
--Paul Laurene Dunbar

Today, the daddy is
feeling tow great poets, two poets you should know: Georgia Douglas Johnson and Paul Laurence Dunbar. Many poets wrote positive poems about America. They marveled at the great American frontier and expanse. They celebrated the American spirit that was full of opportunity and promise. Walt Whitman's "I Sing America" is a good example of such poetry. But not all poets wrote from this perspective.

Many African American poets spoke to the failure of America to live up to its glorified principles of democracy and enticing promises to "the least of these," its African American citizens.

But these poets also celebrated those African Americans who fought to make the American dream come true for African Americans and, by doing so, challenged America to make its principles and promises a living reality for all Americans. By continuing to challenge America to live up to its principles and to be the best that it can be, they held those principles high as goals and kept them in the forefront as American grew and became a more diverse nation in ethnicity, religion and politics. In this sense, they fought not only for African Americans, but for all Americans, for all times.

Best known for the poem "I Want to Die While You Love Me," Georgia Douglas Johnson wrote poems that were personal, very honest. In the poem "Black Woman," she speaks to the failure of American to live up to its promise for many African Americans-- so much so that she questioned whether a woman should give birth to a back child and have him or her live in such a "cruel" world of white oppression.

Paul Laurence Dunbar is one of America's greatest poets. He may be best known for the poem "We Wear the Mask." But he wrote many great poems that were not viewed highly because they were written in black dialect.

The poem "Frederick Douglas" was written shortly after the death of Frederick Douglas. It was not a eulogy so much as a celebration of Douglas courageous and consistent advocacy for African Americans, his untiring effort to make America a land of liberation and freedom for all Americans.

Black Woman
by Georgia Douglas Johnson

Don’t knock at the door, little child,
I cannot let you in,
You know not what a world this is
Of cruelty and sin.
Wait in the still eternity
Until I come to you,
The world is cruel, cruel, child,
I cannot let you in!

Don’t knock at my heart, little one,
I cannot bear the pain
Of turning deaf-ear to your call
Time and time again!
You do not know the monster men
Inhabiting the earth,
Be still, be still, my precious child,
I must not give you birth!
Frederick Douglass
by Paul Laurence Dunbar

A hush is over all the teeming lists,
And there is pause, a breath-space in the strife;
A spirit brave has passed beyond the mists
And vapors that obscure the sun of life.
And Ethiopia, with bosom torn,
Laments the passing of her noblest born.

She weeps for him a mother's burning tears--
She loved him with a mother's deepest love.
He was her champion thro' direful years,
And held her weal all other ends above.
When Bondage held her bleeding in the dust,
He raised her up and whispered, "Hope and Trust."

For her his voice, a fearless clarion, rung
That broke in warning on the ears of men;
For her the strong bow of his power he strung,
And sent his arrows to the very den
Where grim Oppression held his bloody place
And gloated o'er the mis'ries of a race.

And he was no soft-tongued apologist;
He spoke straightforward, fearlessly uncowed;
The sunlight of his truth dispelled the mist,
And set in bold relief each dark hued cloud;
To sin and crime he gave their proper hue,
And hurled at evil what was evil's due.

Through good and ill report he cleaved his way.
Right onward, with his face set toward the heights,
Nor feared to face the foeman's dread array,--
The lash of scorn, the sting of petty spites.
He dared the lightning in the lightning's track,
And answered thunder with his thunder back.

When men maligned him, and their torrent wrath
In furious imprecations o'er him broke,
He kept his counsel as he kept his path;
'Twas for his race, not for himself he spoke.
He knew the import of his Master's call,
And felt himself too mighty to be small.

No miser in the good he held was he,--
His kindness followed his horizon's rim.
His heart, his talents, and his hands were free
To all who truly needed aught of him.
Where poverty and ignorance were rife,
He gave his bounty as he gave his life.

The place and cause that first aroused his might
Still proved its power until his latest day.
In Freedom's lists and for the aid of Right
Still in the foremost rank he waged the fray;
Wrong lived; his occupation was not gone.
He died in action with his armor on!

We weep for him, but we have touched his hand,
And felt the magic of his presence nigh,
The current that he sent throughout the land,
The kindling spirit of his battle-cry.
O'er all that holds us we shall triumph yet,
And place our banner where his hopes were set!

Oh, Douglass, thou hast passed beyond the shore,
But still thy voice is ringing o'er the gale!
Thou'st taught thy race how high her hopes may soar,
And bade her seek the heights, nor faint, nor fail.
She will not fail, she heeds thy stirring cry,
She knows thy guardian spirit will be nigh,
And, rising from beneath the chast'ning rod,
She stretches out her bleeding hands to God!


XO said...

Yes, "Black Woman" breaks your heart.
"I want to die while you love me" is my favorite:

I WANT to die while you love me,
While yet you hold me fair,
While laughter lies upon my lips
And lights are in my hair.

I want to die while you love me,
And bear to that still bed,
Your kisses turbulent, unspent
To warm me when I’m dead.

I want to die while you love me
Oh, who would care to live
Till love has nothing more to ask
And nothing more to give!

I want to die while you love me
And never, never see
The glory of this perfect day
Grow dim or cease to be.

Anonymous said...

Now that Frederic Douglas one was real fine.

Mac Daddy Tribute Blog said...

XO: Yes, it's one of my favorites too. And the older I get, the more I love it.