What dreams we have and how they fly Like rosy clouds across the sky; Of wealth, of fame, of sure success, Of love that comes to cheer and bless; And how they wither, how they fade, The waning wealth, the jilting jade – The fame that for a moment gleams, Then flies forever, -dreams, ah -dreams!
O burning doubt and long regret O tears with which our eyes are wet, Heart-throbs, heart-aches, the glut of pain, The somber cloud, the bitter rain, You were not of those dreams – ah! well, Your full fruition who can tell? Wealth, fame, and love, ah! love that beams Upon our souls, all dreams – ah! dreams.
Temples he built and palaces of air, And, with the artist’s parent-pride aglow, His fancy saw his vague ideals grow Into creations marvelously fair; He set his foot upon Fame’s nether stair. But ah, his dream,—it had entranced him so He could not move. He could no farther go; But paused in joy that he was even there!
He did not wake until one day there gleamed Thro’ his dark consciousness a light that racked His being till he rose, alert to act. But lo! What he had dreamed, the while he dreamed, Another, wedding action unto thought, Into the living, pulsing world had brought.
from "The Book of American Negro Poetry" by James Weldon Johnson