The truth is... everything counts. Everything. Everything we do and everything we say. Everything helps or hurts; everything adds to or takes away from someone else.
There is no secret to success except hard work and getting something indefinable which we call 'the breaks.
If I am going to be a poet at all, I am going to be POET and not NEGRO POET.
I was reared in the conservative atmosphere of a Methodist parsonage.
The key to all strange things is in thy heart..../ My spirit has come home, that sailed the doubtful seas.
My poetry has become the way of my giving out what music is within me.
We shall not always plant while others reap
Dame Poverty gave me my name,
And Pain godfathered me.
We were not made to eternally weep.
Yet do I marvel at this curious thing:/ To make a poet black, and bid him sing!
[W]e have always resented the natural inclination of most white people to demand spirituals the moment it is known that a Negro is about to sing. So often the request has seemed to savor of the feeling that we could do this and this alone.
What is last year's snow to me,
Last year's anything? The tree
Budding yearly must forget
How its past arose or set
What is Africa to me: Copper sun or scarlet sea, Jungle star or jungle track, Strong bronzed men, or regal black Women from whose loins I sprang When the birds of Eden sang?
Never love with all your heart, It only ends in aching.
For we must be one thing or the other, an asset or a liability, the sinew in your wing to help you soar, or the chain to bind you to earth.
Not for myself I make this prayer, But for this race of mine That stretches forth from shadowed places Dark hands for bread and wine.
Lord, I fashion dark gods, too,
Daring even to give You
Dark despairing features
Whatever lives is granted breath But by the grace and sufferance of Death.
I cut my teeth as the black raccoon--
For implements of battle.
Ever at Thy glowing altar Must my heart grow sick and falter, Wishing He I served were black.
All day long and all night through, One thing only must I do: Quench my pride and cool my blood, Lest I perish in the flood.
I doubt not God is good, well-meaning, kind
The loss of love is a terrible thing; They lie who say that death is worse.
The night whose sable breast relieves the stark,
White stars, is no less lovely being dark
Lord, forgive me if my need Sometimes shapes a human creed.
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