“Dead Fires” by Jessie Redmon Fauset (1882 – 1961)

“Dead Fires”

If this is peace, this dead and leaden thing,
     Then better far the hateful fret, the sting.
Better the wound forever seeking balm
     Than this gray calm!

Is this pain’s surcease? Better far the ache,
     The long-drawn dreary day, the night’s white wake,
Better the choking sigh, the sobbing breath
     Than passion’s death!

“Oriflamme” by Jessie Redmon Fauset (1882 – 1961)



“I can remember when I was a little, young girl, 
how my old mammy would sit out of doors in the 
evenings and look up at the stars and groan, 
and I would say, ‘Mammy, what makes you groan so?’ 
And she would say, ‘I am groaning to think of my 
poor children; they do not know where I be 
and I don’t know where they be. I look up at 
the stars and they look up at the stars!’” 
—Sojourner Truth.
I think I see her sitting bowed and black,	
   Stricken and seared with slavery’s mortal scars,	
Reft of her children, lonely, anguished, yet	
   Still looking at the stars.	
Symbolic mother, we thy myriad sons,	       
   Pounding our stubborn hearts on Freedom’s bars,	
Clutching our birthright, fight with faces set,	
   Still visioning the stars!