Verse > Anthologies > James Weldon Johnson, ed. > The Book of American Negro Poetry
James Weldon Johnson, ed. (1871–1938).  The Book of American Negro Poetry.  1922.
It Was Not Fate
William H. A. Moore
IT was not fate which overtook me,
Rather a wayward, wilful wind
That blew hot for awhile
And then, as the even shadows came, blew cold.
What pity it is that a man grown old in life’s dreaming        5
Should stop, e’en for a moment, to look into a woman’s eyes.
And I forgot!
Forgot that one’s heart must be steeled against the east wind.
Life and death alike come out of the East:
Life as tender as young grass,        10
Death as dreadful as the sight of clotted blood.
I shall go back into the darkness,
Not to dream but to seek the light again.
I shall go by paths, mayhap,
On roads that wind around the foothills        15
Where the plains are bare and wild
And the passers-by come few and far between.
I want the night to be long, the moon blind,
The hills thick with moving memories,
And my heart beating a breathless requiem        20
For all the dead days I have lived.
When the Dawn comes—Dawn, deathless, dreaming—
I shall will that my soul must be cleansed of hate,
I shall pray for strength to hold children close to my heart,
I shall desire to build houses where the poor will know shelter, comfort, beauty.        25
And then may I look into a woman’s eyes
And find holiness, love and the peace which passeth understanding.


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