Vox Populi

Vox Populi: A Public Sphere for Politics and Poetry

Margaret Walker: For My People

For my people everywhere singing their slave songs
repeatedly: their dirges and their ditties and their blues
and jubilees, praying their prayers nightly to an
unknown god, bending their knees humbly to an
unseen power;

For my people lending their strength to the years, to the
gone years and the now years and the maybe years,
washing ironing cooking scrubbing sewing mending
hoeing plowing digging planting pruning patching
dragging along never gaining never reaping never
knowing and never understanding;

For my playmates in the clay and dust and sand of Alabama
backyards playing baptizing and preaching and doctor
and jail and soldier and school and mama and cooking
and playhouse and concert and store and hair and Miss
Choomby and company;

For the cramped bewildered years we went to school to learn
to know the reasons why and the answers to and the
people who and the places where and the days when, in
memory of the bitter hours when we discovered we
were black and poor and small and different and nobody
cared and nobody wondered and nobody understood;

For the boys and girls who grew in spite of these things to
be man and woman, to laugh and dance and sing and
play and drink their wine and religion and success, to
marry their playmates and bear children and then die
of consumption and anemia and lynching;

For my people thronging 47th Street in Chicago and Lenox
Avenue in New York and Rampart Street in New
Orleans, lost disinherited dispossessed and happy
people filling the cabarets and taverns and other
people’s pockets needing bread and shoes and milk and
land and money and something–something all our own;

For my people walking blindly spreading joy, losing time
being lazy, sleeping when hungry, shouting when
burdened, drinking when hopeless, tied, and shackled
and tangled among ourselves by the unseen creatures
who tower over us omnisciently and laugh;

For my people blundering and groping and floundering in
the dark of churches and schools and clubs and
societies, associations and councils and committees and
conventions, distressed and disturbed and deceived and
devoured by money-hungry glory-craving leeches,
preyed on by facile force of state and fad and novelty, by
false prophet and holy believer;

For my people standing staring trying to fashion a better way
from confusion, from hypocrisy and misunderstanding,
trying to fasion a world that will hold all the people,
all the faces, all the adams and eves and their countless
generations;

Let a new earth rise. Let another world be born. Let a
bloody peace be written in the sky. Let a second
generation full of courage issue forth; let a people
loving freedom come to growth. Let a beauty full of
healing and a strength of final clenching be the pulsing
in our spirits and our blood. Let the martial songs be
written, let the dirges disappear. Let a race of men now
rise and take control.


Reprinted from the Internet Poetry Archive sponsored by the University of North Carolina Press. For educational use only.

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220px-margaret_walker

Margaret Walker (1915 – 1998) was an American poet and teacher born in Birmingham, Alabama.

3 comments on “Margaret Walker: For My People

  1. pollybrown2013
    October 14, 2016

    It’s as much the music as the words / as much the words as the music. Sending Walker the voice of Michelle Obama, in one of those imaginary meetings arranged in the heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. anisioluiz2008
    October 14, 2016

    Reblogged this on O LADO ESCURO DA LUA.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gospel Isosceles
    October 14, 2016

    This has always been one of my dearest poems; thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on October 14, 2016 by in Opinion Leaders, Poetry, Social Justice and tagged , , , .
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