AfroPoets Famous Writers


            To Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah

I was a little boy, at home with strangers,
   I liked my playmates, and knew well,
   Whence all their parents came;
   From England, Scotland, royal France
   From Germany and oft by chance
   The humble Emerald Isle.

But my brown skin and close-curled hair
   Was alien, and how it grew, none knew;
   Few tried to say, some dropped a wondering word or stray;
   Some laughed and stared.

And then it came; I dreamed.
   I placed together all I knew
   All hints and slurs together grew.
   I dreamed.

I made one picture of what nothing seemed
   I shuddered in dumb terror
   In silence screamed,
   For now it seemed this I had dreamed:

How up from Hell, a land had leaped
   A wretched land, all scorched and seamed
   Covered with ashes, chained with pain
   Streaming with blood, in horror lain
   Its very air a shriek of death
   And agony of hurt.

Anon I woke, but in one corner of my soul
   I stayed asleep.
   Forget I could not,
   But never would I remember
   That hell-hoist ghost
   Of slavery and woe.

I lived and grew, I worked and hoped
   I planned and wandered, gripped and coped
   With every doubt but one that slept
   Yet clamoured to awaken.

I became old; old, worn and gray;
   Along my hard and weary way
   Rolled war and pestilence, war again;
   I looked on Poverty and foul Disease
   I walked with Death and yet I knew
   There stirred a doubt: Were all dreams true?
   And what in truth was Africa?

One cloud-swept day a Seer appeared,
   All cloaked and veiled as me he hailed
   And bid me make three journeys to the world
   Seeking all through their lengthened links
   The endless Riddle of the Sphinx.

I went to Moscow; Ignorance grown wise taught me Wisdom;
   I went to Peking; Poverty grown rich
   Showed me the wealth of Work.
   I came to Accra.

Here at last, I looked back on my Dream;
   I heard the Voice that loosed
   The long-locked dungeons of my soul
   I sensed that Africa had come
   Not up from Hell, but from the sum of Heaven's glory.

I lifted up mine eyes to Ghana
   And swept the Hills with high Hosanna;
   Above the sun my sight took flight
   Till from that pinnacle of light
   I saw dropped down this earth of crimson, green and gold
   Roaring with colour, drums and song,

Happy with dreams and deeds worth more than doing
   Around me velvet faces loomed
   Burnt by the kiss of everlasting suns
   Under great stars of midnight glory
   Trees danced, and foliage sang;

The lilies hallelujah rang
   Where robed with rule on Golden stool
   The gold-crowned Priests with duty done
   Pour high libations to the sun
   And danced to gods.

Red blood flowed rare 'neath close-clung hair
   While subtle perfume filled the air
   And whirls and whirls of tiny curis
   Crowned heads.

Yet Ghana shows its might and power
   Not in its colour nor its flower
   But in its wondrous breadth of soul
   Its Joy of Life
   Its selfless role
   Of giving.

School and clinic, home and hall
   Road and garden bloom and call
   Socialism blossoms bold
   On communism centuries old.

I lifted my last voice and cried
   I cried to heaven as I died:
   O turn me to the Golden Horde
   Summon all western nations
   Towards the Rising Sun.

From reeking West whose day is done,
   Who stink and stagger in their dung
   Toward Africa, China, India's strand
   Where Kenya and Himalaya stand
   And Nile and Yang-toe roll;
   Turn every yearning face of man.

Come with us, dark America:
   The scum of Europe fattened here
   And drowned a dream
   Made fetid swamp a refuge seems:

Enslaved the Black and killed the Red
   And armed the Rich to loot the Dead;
   Worshipped the whores of Hollywood
   Where once the Virgin Mary stood
   And lynched the Christ.

Awake, avake, O sleeping world
   Honour the sun;
   Worship the stars, those vaster suns
   Who rule the night
   Where black is bright
   And all unselfish work is right
   And greed is sin.

Ana Africa, leads on;
   Pan Africa!

Written by W.E.B. Du Bois (1868-1963)


W.E.B. Du Bois Poets Page