Let me make the songs for the people, Songs for the old and young; Songs to stir like a battle-cry Wherever they are sung. Not for the clashing of sabres, For carnage nor for strife; But songs to thrill the hearts of men With more abundant life. Let me make the songs for the weary, Amid life’s fever and fret, Till hearts shall relax their tension, And careworn brows forget. Let me sing for little children, Before their footsteps stray, Sweet anthems of love and duty, To float o’er life’s highway. I would sing for the poor and aged, When shadows dim their sight; Of the bright and restful mansions, Where there shall be no night. Our world, so worn and weary, Needs music, pure and strong, To hush the jangle and discords Of sorrow, pain, and wrong. Music to soothe all its sorrow, Till war and crime shall cease; And the hearts of men grown tender Girdle the world with peace.
HAIL, happy day, when, smiling like the morn, Fair Freedom rose New-England to adorn: The northern clime beneath her genial ray, Dartmouth, congratulates thy blissful sway: Elate with hope her race no longer mourns, Each soul expands, each grateful bosom burns, While in thine hand with pleasure we behold The silken reins, and Freedom’s charms unfold. Long lost to realms beneath the northern skies She shines supreme, while hated faction dies: Soon as appear’d the Goddess long desir’d, Sick at the view, she languish’d and expir’d; Thus from the splendors of the morning light The owl in sadness seeks the caves of night. No more, America, in mournful strain Of wrongs, and grievance unredress’d complain, No longer shalt thou dread the iron chain, Which wanton Tyranny with lawless hand Had made, and with it meant t’ enslave the land. Should you, my lord, while you peruse my song, Wonder from whence my love of Freedom sprung, Whence flow these wishes for the common good, By feeling hearts alone best understood, I, young in life, by seeming cruel fate Was snatch’d from Afric’s fancy’d happy seat: What pangs excruciating must molest, What sorrows labour in my parent’s breast? Steel’d was that soul and by no misery mov’d That from a father seiz’d his babe belov’d: Such, such my case. And can I then but pray Others may never feel tyrannic sway? For favours past, great Sir, our thanks are due, And thee we ask thy favours to renew, Since in thy pow’r, as in thy will before, To sooth the griefs, which thou did’st once deplore. May heav’nly grace the sacred sanction give To all thy works, and thou for ever live Not only on the wings of fleeting Fame, Though praise immortal crowns the patriot’s name, But to conduct to heav’ns refulgent fane, May fiery coursers sweep th’ ethereal plain, And bear thee upwards to that blest abode, Where, like the prophet, thou shalt find thy God.
‘Twas mercy brought me from my Pagan land, Taught my benighted soul to understand That there’s a God, that there’s a Saviour too: Once I redemption neither sought nor knew. Some view our sable race with scornful eye, “Their colour is a diabolic die.” Remember, Christians, Negros, black as Cain, May be refin’d, and join th’ angelic train.
Lift every voice and sing Till earth and heaven ring, Ring with the harmonies of Liberty; Let our rejoicing rise High as the listening skies, Let it resound loud as the rolling sea. Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us, Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us, Facing the rising sun of our new day begun Let us march on till victory is won.
Stony the road we trod, Bitter the chastening rod, Felt in the days when hope unborn had died; Yet with a steady beat, Have not our weary feet Come to the place for which our fathers sighed? We have come over a way that with tears has been watered, We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered, Out from the gloomy past, Till now we stand at last Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.
God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, Thou who has brought us thus far on the way; Thou who has by Thy might Led us into the light, Keep us forever in the path, we pray. Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee, Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee; Shadowed beneath Thy hand, May we forever stand. True to our God, True to our native land.
If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, sweep streets like Beethoven composed music, sweep streets like Leontyne Price sings before the Metropolitan Opera.
Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: Here lived a great street sweeper who swept his job well.
If you can’t be a pine at the top of the hill, be a shrub in the valley. Be the best little shrub on the side of the hill.
Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be a sun, be a star. For it isn’t by size that you win or fail. Be the best of whatever you are.
Visible, invisible, A fluctuating charm, An amber-colored amethyst Inhabits it; your arm Approaches, and It opens and It closes; You have meant To catch it, And it shrivels; You abandon Your intent— It opens, and it Closes and you Reach for it— The blue Surrounding it Grows cloudy, and It floats away From you.
And when my Joy was born, I held it in my arms and stood on the house-top shouting, “Come ye, my neighbours, come and see, for Joy this day is born unto me. Come and behold this gladsome thing that laugheth in the sun.”
But none of my neighbours came to look upon my Joy, and great was my astonishment.
And every day for seven moons I proclaimed my Joy from the house-top—and yet no one heeded me. And my Joy and I were alone, unsought and unvisited.
Then my Joy grew pale and weary because no other heart but mine held its loveliness and no other lips kissed its lips.
Then my Joy died of isolation.
And now I only remember my dead Joy in remembering my dead Sorrow. But memory is an autumn leaf that murmurs a while in the wind and then is heard no more.