by W. E. B. Du Bois
Dark daughter of the lotus leaves that watch the Southern sea!
Wan spirit of a prisoned soul a-panting to be free!
The muttered music of thy streams, the whispers of the deep
Have kissed each other in God's name and kissed a world to sleep.
* * * *
The will of the world is a whistling wind sweeping a cloud-cast sky,
And not from the east and not from the west knelled that soul-waking cry;
But out of the South - the sad, black south-it screamed from the top of the sky,
Crying: "Awake, O ancient race!" Wailing, "O woman arise!"
And crying and sighing and crying again as a voice in the midnight cries;
But the burden of the white men bore her back, and the white world stifled her sighs.
* * * *
The white world's vermin and faith:
All the dirt of London,
All the scum of New York;
Valiant spoilers of women
And conquerers of unarmed men;
Shameless breeders of bastards,
Drunk with the greed of gold,
Baiting their blood-stained hooks
With cant for the souls of the simple;
Bearing the White Man's Burden
Of Liquor and Lust and Lies!
Unthankful we wince in the East,
Unthankful we wail from the westward,
Unthankfully thankful we curse,
In the un-won wastes of the Wild:
"I hate them, Oh!
"I hate them well,
"I hate them, Christ!
"As I hate Hell,
"If I were God
"I'd sound their knell
* * * *
Who raised the fools to their glory
But black men of Egypt and Ind?
Ethiopia's sons of the evening,
Chaldeans and Yellow Chinese?
The Hebrow children of Morning
And mongrels of Rome and Greece?
And they that raised the boasters:
Shall drag them down again;
Down with the theft of their thieving
And murder and mocking of men;
Down with their barter of women
And laying and lying of creeds;
Down with their cheating of childhood,
And drunken orgies of war -
Till the Devil's strength bo shorn,
Till some dim darker David a-hoeing of his corn,
And married maiden, Mother of God,
Bid the Black Christ be born!
* * * *
Then shall our burden be manhood,
Be it yellow or black or white;
And Poverty, and Justice and Sorrow -
The Humble and Simple and Strong -
Shall sing with the Sons of Morning,
And Daughters of Evensong:
Black mother of the iron hills that ward the blazing sea,
Wild spirit of a storm-swept soul a-struggling to be free,
Where, 'neath the bloody finger marks, thy riven bosom quakes,
Thicken the thunders of God's voice, and lo! a world awakes!
Last updated March 11, 2023