O Southland!

by James Weldon Johnson

O Southland! O Southland!
    Have you not heard the call,
The trumpet blown, the word made known
    To the nations, one and all?
The watchword, the hope-word,
    Salvation’s present plan?
A gospel new, for all—for you:
    Man shall be saved by man.

O Southland! O Southland!
    Do you not hear to-day
The mighty beat of onward feet,
    And know you not their way?
‘Tis forward, ’tis upward,
    On to the fair white arch
Of Freedom’s dome, and there is room
    For each man who would march.

O Southland, fair Southland!
    Then why do you still cling
To an idle age and a musty page,
    To a dead and useless thing?
‘Tis springtime! ‘Tis work-time!
    The world is young again!
And God’s above, and God is love,
    And men are only men.

O Southland! my Southland!
    O birthland! do not shirk
The toilsome task, nor respite ask,
    But gird you for the work.
Remember, remember
    That weakness stalks in pride;
That he is strong who helps along
    The faint one at his side.

Anthologized in The Book of American Negro Poetry, edited by James Weldon Johnson (1922).