The Harlem Renaissance Poetry Project

An Analytical and Linguistic Examination of Poetry Written by Harlem Renaissance Poets

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Esther Popel ~ A 5-Poem Collection

These poems were hand-selected by the Harlem Renaissance project team.

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Table of Contents


April is a wanton
With her cool, slim, searching fingers—
And Day, a giddy gossip,
Sitting, waiting on the stair,
Listens to the murmurings—
While wayward Romance lingers
To revel in the fragrance
Of her hair!

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April Passed My Way

April passed my way , and Romance
Followed after to my door ;
Lingered shyly, gently watchful
For my welcome; more and more
In her manner fascinating
As she held my eye
Standing at my doorway , waiting,
Anxious not to pass me by!

Romance came , along with April,
And I let her in;
Shared with her my heart' deep secrets
And, to my chagrin,
Off she slipped and, when she left me,
Stole my treasures all away!
Romance came and went with April !
There is nothing more to say.

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Flag Salute

"I pledge allegiance to the flag"
"They dragged him naked
"Through the muddy streets,
"A feeble-minded black boy!
"And the charge? Supposed assault
"Upon an aged woman!"
"Of the United States of America"
"One mile they dragged him
Like a sack of meal,
"A rope around his neck,
"A bloody ear
"Left dangling by the patriotic hand
"Of Nordic youth! (A boy of seventeen!)
""And to the Republic for which it stands"
"And then they hanged his body to a tree,
"Below the window of the county judge
"Whose pleadings for that battered human flesh
"Were stifled by the brutish, raucous howls
"Of men, and boys, and women with their babes,
Brought out to see the bloody spectacle
"Of murder in the style of '33!
" (Three thousand strong, they were!)
"One Nation, Indivisible"
To make the tale complete
They built a fire
What matters that the stuff they burned
Was fleshand boneand hair
And reeking gasoline!
"With Libertyand Justice"
They cut the rope in bits
And passed them out,
For souvenirs, among the men and boys!
The teeth no doubt, on golden chains
Will hang
About the favored necks of sweethearts, wives,
And daughters, mothers, sisters, babies, too!
"For ALL!"

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October Prayer

Change me, oh God,
Into a tree in autumn
And let my dying
Be a blaze of glory !
Drape me in a
Leafy gown,
And deck my soul
In dancing flakes of gold !
And then when Death
Comes by, and with his hands
Strips off my rustling garment
Let me stand
Before him, proud and naked,
Unashamed, uncaring,
All the strength in me revealed
Against the sky!
Oh, God
Make me an autumn tree
If I must die!

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Grant Me Strength

Give me the strength
Of verdant hills
Washed clean by summer rain;

Of purple hills
At peace when weary Day
Sinks quietly to rest
In Night's cool arms ;

Of rugged, wind-whipped hills
That lift their heads
Above the petty, lowland, valley things,
And shake their shoulders free
Of bonds that hold
Them close to earth;

Of snow-capped hills
Sun-kissed by day, by night
Companioned by the stars;

Of grim volcanoes
Pregnant with the fires
Of molten fury!

Grant me strength,
Great God,
Like that of hills!

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