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The Prayers of God

Name of God's Name!
Red murder reigns;
All hell is loose;
On gold autumnal air
Walk grinning devils, barbed and hoofed;
While high on hills of hate,
Black-blossomed, crimson-sky'd,
Thou sittest, dumb.
Father Almighty!
This earth is mad!
Palsied, our cunning hands;
Rotten, our gold;
Our argosies reel and stagger
Over empty seas;
All the long aisles
Of Thy Great Temples, God,
Stink with the entrails
Of our souls.
And Thou art dumb.
Above the thunder of Thy Thunders, Lord,
Lightening Thy Lightnings,
Rings and roars
The dark damnation
Of this hell of war.
Red piles the pulp of hearts and heads
And little children's hands.
Allah!
Elohim!
Very God of God!
Death is here!
Dead are the living; deep—dead the dead.
Dying are earth's unborn—
The babes' wide eyes of genius and of joy,
Poems and prayers, sun-glows and earth-songs,
Great-pictured dreams,
Enmarbled phantasies,
High hymning heavens—all
In this dread night
Writhe and shriek and choke and die
This long ghost-night—
While Thou art dumb.
Have mercy!
Have mercy upon us, miserable sinners!
Stand forth, unveil Thy Face,
Pour down the light
That seethes above Thy Throne,
And blaze this devil's dance to darkness!
Hear!
Speak!
In Christ's Great Name—
I hear!
Forgive me, God!
Above the thunder I hearkened;
Beneath the silence, now,—
I hear!
(Wait, God, a little space.
It is so strange to talk with Thee—
Alone!)
This gold?
I took it.
Is it Thine?
Forgive; I did not know.
Blood? Is it wet with blood?
'Tis from my brother's hands.
(I know; his hands are mine.)
It flowed for Thee, O Lord.
War? Not so; not war—
Dominion, Lord, and over black, not white;
Black, brown, and fawn,
And not Thy Chosen Brood, O God,
We murdered.
To build Thy Kingdom,
To drape our wives and little ones,
And set their souls a-glitter—
For this we killed these lesser breeds
And civilized their dead,
Raping red rubber, diamonds, cocoa, gold!
For this, too, once, and in Thy Name,
I lynched a Nigger—
(He raved and writhed,
I heard him cry,
I felt the life-light leap and lie,
I saw him crackle there, on high,
I watched him wither!)
Thou?
Thee?
I lynched Thee?
Awake me, God! I sleep!
What was that awful word Thou saidst?
That black and riven thing—was it Thee?
That gasp—was it Thine?
This pain—is it Thine?
Are, then, these bullets piercing Thee?
Have all the wars of all the world,
Down all dim time, drawn blood from Thee?
Have all the lies and thefts and hates—
Is this Thy Crucifixion, God,
And not that funny, little cross,
With vinegar and thorns?
Is this Thy kingdom here, not there,
This stone and stucco drift of dreams?
Help!
I sense that low and awful cry—
Who cries?
Who weeps?
With silent sob that rends and tears—
Can God sob?
Who prays?
I hear strong prayers throng by,
Like mighty winds on dusky moors—
Can God pray?
Prayest Thou, Lord, and to me?
Thou needest me?
Thou needest me?
Thou needest me?
Poor, wounded soul!
Of this I never dreamed. I thought—
Courage, God,
I come!

Poem by W. E. B. Du Bois
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