Heredity by Effie Smith

Our dead forefathers, mighty though they be,
For all their power still leave our spirits free;
Though on our paths their shadows far are thrown,
The life that each man liveth is his own.

Time stands like some schoolmaster old and stern,
And calls each human being in his turn
To write his task upon life’s blackboard space;
Death’s fingers then the finished work erase,
And the next pupil’s letters take its place.

That he who wrote before thee labored well
Concerns thee not: thy work for thee must tell;
‘Tis naught to thee if others’ tasks were ill:
Though has thy chance and canst improve it still.
From all thy fathers’ glory and their guilt
The board for thee is clean: write what thou wilt!

Copyright: 1909, in Rosemary and Pansies

Category: Celebration of Blackness,