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Poem by Claude McKay


Exhortation: Summer 1919


Through the pregnant universe rumbles lifes terrific thunder, 
And Earths bowels quake with terror; strange and terrible storms break, 
Lightning-torches flame the heavens, kindling souls of men, thereunder: 
Africa! long ages sleeping, O my motherland, awake! 

In the East the clouds glow crimson with the new dawn that is breaking, 
And its golden glory fills the western skies. 
O my brothers and my sisters, wake! arise! 
For the new birth rends the old earth and the very dead are waking, 
Ghosts are turned flesh, throwing off the graves disguise, 
And the foolish, even children, are made wise; 
For the big earth groans in travail for the strong, new world in making-- 
O my brothers, dreaming for dim centuries, 
Wake from sleeping; to the East turn, turn your eyes! 

Oh the night is sweet for sleeping, but the shining days for working; 
Sons of the seductive night, for your childrens childrens sake, 
From the deep primeval forests where the crouching leopards lurking, 
Lift your heavy-lidded eyes, Ethiopia! awake! 

In the East the clouds glow crimson with the new dawn that is breaking, 
And its golden glory fills the western skies. 
O my brothers and my sisters, wake! arise! 
For the new birth rends the old earth and the very dead are waking, 
Ghosts have turned flesh, throwing off the graves disguise, 
And the foolish, even children, are made wise; 
For the big earth groans in travail for the strong, new world in making-- 
O my brothers, dreaming for long centuries, 
Wake from sleeping; to the East turn, turn your eyes!



Claude McKay


Claude McKay's other poems:
  1. One Year After
  2. Through Agony
  3. Tormented
  4. Dawn in New York
  5. Memorial


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