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Wednesday, February 07, 2018


Brothers-American Drama:

I am a thing not new, I am as old
As human nature. I am that which lurks,   
Ready to spring whenever a bar is loosed;   
The ancient trait which fights incessantly   
Against restraint, balks at the upward climb;   
The weight forever seeking to obey   
The law of downward pull—and I am more:   
The bitter fruit am I of planted seed;   
The resultant, the inevitable end
Of evil forces and the powers of wrong.
Lessons in degradation, taught and learned,   
The memories of cruel sights and deeds,   
The pent-up bitterness, the unspent hate   
Filtered through fifteen generations have   
Sprung up and found in me sporadic life.   
In me the muttered curse of dying men,   
On me the stain of conquered women, and   
Consuming me the fearful fires of lust,   
Lit long ago, by other hands than mine.
In me the down-crushed spirit, the hurled-back prayers   
Of wretches now long dead—their dire bequests.   
In me the echo of the stifled cry
Of children for their battered mothers’ breasts.
I claim no race, no race claims me; I am   
No more than human dregs; degenerate;
The monstrous offspring of the monster, Sin;   
I am—just what I am. . . . The race that fed
Your wives and nursed your babes would do the same   
Today. But I—

James Weldon Johnson.


February 7, 2018 | Permalink


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