“A Clear Midnight” by Walt Whitman


This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,

Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson

done,

Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the

themes thou lovest best,

Night, sleep, death and the stars.

“A Grain of Sand” by Frances E. W. Harper


Do you see this grain of sand
Lying loosely in my hand?
Do you know to me it brought
Just a simple loving thought?
When one gazes night by night
On the glorious stars of light,
Oh how little seems the span
Measured round the life of man.

Oh! how fleeting are his years
With their smiles and their tears;
Can it be that God does care
For such atoms as we are?
Then outspake this grain of sand
‘I was fashioned by His hand
In the star lit realms of space
I was made to have a place.

‘Should the ocean flood the world,
Were its mountains ‘gainst me hurled
All the force they could employ
Wouldn’t a single grain destroy;
And if I, a thing so light,
Have a place within His sight;
You are linked unto his throne
Cannot live nor die alone.

In the everlasting arms
Mid life’s dangers and alarms
Let calm trust your spirit fill;
Know He’s God, and then be still.’
Trustingly I raised my head
Hearing what the atom said;
Knowing man is greater far
Than the brightest sun or star.

“Church Building” by Frances Ellen Watkins Harper


Uncle Jacob often told us,
Since freedom blessed our race
We ought all to come together
And build a meeting place.

So we pinched, and scraped, and spared,
A little here and there:
Though our wages was but scanty,
The church did get a share.

And, when the house was finished,
Uncle Jacob came to pray;
He was looking mighty feeble,
And his head was awful gray.

But his voice rang like a trumpet;
His eyes looked bright and young;
And it seemed a mighty power
Was resting on his tongue.

And he gave us all his blessing –
‘Twas parting words he said,
For soon we got the message
The dear old man was dead.

But I believe he’s in the kingdom,
For when we shook his hand
He said, ‘Children, you must meet me
Right in the promised land;

‘For when I done a moiling
And toiling here below,
Through the gate into the city
Straightway I hope to go.’

“Blessed Hope” by France E.W. Harper


Oh! crush it not, that hope so blest,

Which cheers the fainting heart,

And points it to the coming rest,

Where sorrow has no part.

Tear from my heart each worldly prop,

Unbind each earthly string,

But to this blest and glorious hope,

Oh! let my spirit cling.

It cheer’d amid the days of old,

Each holy patriarch’s breast;

It was an anchor to their souls,

Upon it let me rest.

When wandering in dens and caves,

In sheep and goat skins dress’d,

A peel’d and scatter’d people learned

To know this hope was blest.

Help me, amid this world of strife,

To long for Christ to reign,

That when He brings the crown of life,

I may that crown obtain

“A Mathematical Problem in Verse” by Benjamin Banneker


A COOPER and Vintner sat down for a talk,

Both being so groggy, that neither could walk,

Says Cooper to Vintner, “I’m the first of my trade,

There’s no kind of vessel, but what I have made,

And of any shpe, Sir, -just what you will,-

And of any size, Sir, -from a ton to a gill!”

“Then,” says the Vintner, “you’re the man for me,-

Make me a vessel, if we can agree.

The top and the bottom diameter define,

To bear that proportion as fifteen to nine,

Thirty-five inches are just what I crave,

No more and no less, in the depth, will I have;

Just thirty-nine gallons this vessel must hold,-

Then I will reward you with silver or gold,-

Give me your promise, my honest old friend?”

“I’ll make it tomorrow, that you may depend!”

So the next day the Cooper his work to discharge,

Soon made the new vessel, but made it too large;-

He took out some staves, which made it too small,

And then cursed the vessel, the Vintner and all.

He beat on his breast, “By the Powers!” – he swore,

He never would work at his trade any more.

Now my worthy friend, find out, if you can,

The vessel’s dimensions and comfort the man!*

* The greater diameter would be 24.7460 inches, the lesser 14.8476.

“On Being Brought from Africa to America” by Phillis Wheately


Phyillis Wheatley‘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, ChristiansNegros, black as Cain,
May be refin’d, and join th’ angelic train.

“An Address to Miss Phillis Wheatley” by Jupiter Hammon


Jupiter Hammon

I.

O come you pious youth! adore

    The wisdom of thy God,
In bringing thee from distant shore,
    To learn His holy word.
                                                                  Eccles. xii.
II.
Though mightst been left behind
    Amidst a dark abode;
God’s tender mercy still combined,
    Thou hast the holy word.
                                                                  Psal. cxxv. 2, 3.