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New Symphony of Time

THIS IS MY CENTURY: BLACK SYNTHESIS OF TIME

By Margaret Walker Alexander

I

O Man, behold your destiny.
Look on this life
and know our future living;
our former lives from these our present days
now melded into one.

Queens of the Nile,
Gods of our Genesis,
Parade of centuries
behold the rising sun.
The dying Western sky
with yawning gates of death,
from decadence and dissonance
destroying false and fair;
worlds of our galaxies,
our waning moons and suns
look on this living hell
and see the rising sun.

II

Speak, heralds of our honored dead
Proclaim the heroes’ line.
Declaim the sculptured and created truths
from prehistoric time.
Infinitude is bared to finite eyes:
We see the whirling suns and stars
first fixed and moving space
to shape beginning Time.

III

This is my century
I saw it grow
from darkness into dawn.
I watched the molten lava pour
from red volcanic skies;
Islands and Mountains heave
into the Sea
Move Man into the spiraled axis turn
and saw six suns and sunsets rise and burn.

IV

Osiris, Isis, black and beautiful gods,
When came your spectacle
of rhythmed life and death?
You gods of love
on pyres of sacrifice
our human hearts become
old hearthstones of our tribal birth and flame:
the hammer and the forge,
the anvil and the fire,
the righteous sparks go wild
like rockets in the sky.
The fireworks overhead
flame red and blue and gold
against one darkened sky.
O living man behold
your destined hands control
the flowered earth ablaze,
alive, each golden flower unfold.

Now see our marching dead
The tyrants too, have fled.
The broken bones and blood
Have melted in the flood.

V Cinque (From the Amistad)

Cinque.
O man magnificent.
The gods endowed you well.
Prince of our innocence
The stars move round your head.
You stride the earth to tell
your sons and daughters young
from island, sea, and land—
a continental span—
how men are made of gods
and born to rule the world.
In majesty with monumental hands
you bridge the Universe
and centuries of desert sands.
Bequeath to us your handsome dignity
and lordly noble trust.

VI

Gods of compassion, rise
In mortal human form.
The splendor of your eyes
Streaks lightning through the storm.

VII

This is my century—
Black synthesis of Time:
The Freudian slip
The Marxian mind
Kierkegaardian Leap of Faith
and Du Bois’ prophecy: the color line.
These are the comrades of Einstein,
the dawning of another Age,
new symphony of Time.

VIII

New liberties arise;
from Freedom’s flag unfold;
the right to live and be
both stronger and more wise.
Each child, a prophet’s eyes;
each place, a priestess stone.
This Beast no man denies
the godly-human throne.
Each generation cries
to touch divinity
and open up the sunlit splitting skies.

IX

I have had a good time singing
the songs of my fathers
the melodies of my mothers
the plaintive minor notes of my grandmothers.
I heard the drums of Africa
and I made the music of Spain.
I gave rhythm to the world
and called it syncopation.
All the Calypso brothers
have danced music in my head
and all my beautiful jazzy greats
like old Satchmo,
the Duke, the Count, the Duchess, the King
the Queen, Prince, and Princesses
they were the sons and daughters of royalty
in my dynasty.
I am a black shoeshine boy
made immortal by Barthe
and I am a black mother
running from slavery.

X

Look on my bronzed and black-red-mahogany face
and know me well.
For I am the seed of the earth,
the broken body of the Son of God,
and the Spirit of the Universe.
Drink wine in my memory
and pour water on stones
singing Libation songs.

I came out of the sun
and I swam rivers of blood
to touch the moon.
I will not flinch before the holocaust
for I am a deathless soul,
immortal, black, and free.

© Georgia University Press