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Ghana Calls

I was a little boy, at home with strangers.   
I liked my playmates, and knew well,   
Whence all their parents came; 
From England, Scotland, royal France   
From Germany and oft by chance 
The humble Emerald Isle. 

But my brown skin and close-curled hair 
Was alien, and how it grew, none knew; 
Few tried to say, some dropped a wonderful word or stray; 
Some laughed and stared. 

And then it came: I dreamed.   
I placed together all I knew 
All hints and slurs together drew.   
I dreamed. 

I made one picture of what nothing seemed   
I shuddered in dumb terror 
In silence screamed, 
For now it seemed this I had dreamed; 

How up from Hell, a land had leaped 
A wretched land, all scorched and seamed   
Covered with ashes, chained with pain   
Streaming with blood, in horror lain   
Its very air a shriek of death 
And agony of hurt. 

Anon I woke, but in one corner of my soul   
I stayed asleep. 
Forget I could not, 
But never would I remember   
That hell-hoist ghost   
Of slavery and woe. 

I lived and grew, I worked and hoped 
I planned and wandered, gripped and coped   
With every doubt but one that slept   
Yet clamoured to awaken. 
I became old; old, worn and gray;   
Along my hard and weary way 
Rolled war and pestilence, war again;   
I looked on Poverty and foul Disease   
I walked with Death and yet I knew 
There stirred a doubt: Were all dreams true?   
And what in truth was Africa? 

One cloud-swept day a Seer appeared,   
All closed and veiled as me he hailed 
And bid me make three journeys to the world   
Seeking all through their lengthened links   
The endless Riddle of the Sphinx. 

I went to Moscow; Ignorance grown wise taught me Wisdom; 
I went to Peking: Poverty grown rich 
Showed me the wealth of Work 
I came to Accra. 

Here at last, I looked back on my Dream;   
I heard the Voice that loosed 
The Long-looked dungeons of my soul 
I sensed that Africa had come 
Not up from Hell, but from the sum of Heaven’s glory. 

I lifted up mine eyes to Ghana 
And swept the hills with high Hosanna; 
Above the sun my sight took flight   
Till from that pinnacle of light 
I saw dropped down this earth of crimson, green and gold 
Roaring with color, drums and song. 

Happy with dreams and deeds worth more than doing   
Around me velvet faces loomed   
Burnt by the kiss of everlasting suns 
Under great stars of midnight glory   
Trees danced, and foliage sang; 

The lilies hallelujah rang 
Where robed with rule on Golden Stool   
The gold-crowned Priests with duty done   
Pour high libations to the sun 
And danced to gods. 

Red blood flowed rare ’neath close-clung hair   
While subtle perfume filled the air   
And whirls and whirls of tiny curls   
Crowned heads. 

Yet Ghana shows its might and power   
Not in its color nor its flower   
But in its wondrous breadth of soul   
Its Joy of Life 
Its selfless role 
Of giving. 
School and clinic, home and hall   
Road and garden bloom and call   
Socialism blossoms bold 
On Communism centuries old. 

I lifted my last voice and cried   
I cried to heaven as I died: 
O turn me to the Golden Horde   
Summon all western nations   
Toward the Rising Sun. 

From reeking West whose day is done,   
Who stink and stagger in their dung   
Toward Africa, China, India’s strand   
Where Kenya and Himalaya stand   
And Nile and Yang-tze roll: 
Turn every yearning face of man. 

Come with us, dark America: 
The scum of Europe battened here   
And drowned a dream 
Made fetid swamp a refuge seem: 

Enslaved the Black and killed the Red   
And armed the Rich to loot the Dead;   
Worshipped the whores of Hollywood   
Where once the Virgin Mary stood 
And lynched the Christ. 

Awake, awake, O sleeping world   
Honor the sun; 

Worship the stars, those vaster suns   
Who rule the night 
Where black is bright 
And all unselfish work is right   
And Greed is Sin. 

And Africa leads on:   
Pan Africa!

Poem by W. E. B. Du Bois
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