A Black Man Talks of Reaping By Arna Bontemps

I have sown beside all waters in my day.
I planted deep, within my heart the fear
that wind or fowl would take the grain away.
I planted safe against this stark, lean year.   

I scattered seed enough to plant the land
in rows from Canada to Mexico
but for my reaping only what the hand
can hold at once is all that I can show.

Yet what I sowed and what the orchard yields
my brother's sons are gathering stalk and root;
small wonder then my children glean in fields
they have not sown, and feed on bitter fruit.

Arna Bontemps, “A Black Man Talks of Reaping” (1926). Copyright 1926 by Arna Bontemps. Reprinted with the permission of Harold Ober Associates, Incorporated.

Source: American Poetry: The Twentieth Century Volume 2 (2000)

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