A GREAT swart cheek and the gleam of tears, The flutter of hopes and the shadow of fears, And all day long the rub and scrub With only a breath betwixt tub and tub. Fool! Thou hast toiled for fifty years And what hast thou now but thy dusty tears? In silence she rubbed … But her face I had seen, Where the light of her soul fell shining and clean.
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