Verse > Anthologies > James Weldon Johnson, ed. > The Book of American Negro Poetry
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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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