Howard Thurman, “Knowledge . . . Shall Vanish Away”

There is a sense of wholeness at the core of man
That must abound in all he does;
That marks with reverence his ev’ry step;
That has its sway when all else fails;
That wearies out all evil things;
That warms the depth of frozen fears
Making friend of foe,
Making love of hate,
And lasts beyond the living and the dead,
Beyond the goals of peace, the ends of war!
This man seeks through all his years:
To be complete and of one piece, within, without.

Portrait of Rev. Howard Thurman

— “Knowledge . . . Shall Vanish Away,” in The Inward Journey

Karenge Ya Marenge (Do or Die) by Countee Cullen

Dark Rapture, Beauford Delaney
Wherein are words sublime or noble? What 
Invests one speech with haloed eminence, 
Makes it the sesame for all doors shut, 
Yet in its like sees but impertinence? 
Is it the hue? Is it the cast of eye, 
The curve of lip or Asiatic breath, 
Which mark a lesser place for Gandhi’s cry 
Than “Give me liberty or give me death!” Is Indian speech so quaint, so weak, so rude, 
So like its land enslaved, denied, and crude, 
That men who claim they fight for liberty 
Can hear this battle-shout impassively, 
Yet to their arms with high resolve have sprung 
At those same words cried in the English tongue?

Howard Thurman – A Meditation on Thanksgiving

For all these I make an act of Thanksgiving this day.

I pass before me the mainsprings of my heritage:

The fruits of the labors of countless generations who lived before me, without whom my own life would have no meaning;

The seers who saw visions and dreamed dreams;

The prophets who sensed a truth greater than the mind could grasp and whose words could only find fulfillment in the years which they would never see;

The workers whose sweat has watered the trees, the leaves of which are for the healing of the nations;

The restlessness which bottoms all I do with its stark insistence that I have never done my best, I have never reached for the highest;

The big hope that never quite deserts me, that I and my kind will study war no more, that love and tenderness and all the inner graces of Almighty affection will cover the life of the children of God as the waters cover the sea.

All these and more than mind can think and heart can feel,

I make as my sacrament of Thanksgiving to Thee,

Our Father, in humbleness of mind and simplicity of heart.

Strange Is The Path When You Offer Love by Mirabai

Do not mention the name of love, 
O my simple-minded companion. 
Strange is the path 
When you offer your love. 
Your body is crushed at the first step. 

If you want to offer love 
Be prepared to cut off your head 
And sit on it. 
Be like the moth, 
Which circles the lamp and offers its body. 
Be like the deer, which, on hearing the horn, 
Offers its head to the hunter. 
Be like the partridge, 
Which swallows burning coals 
In love of the moon. 
Be like the fish 
Which yields up its life 
When separated from the sea. 
Be like the bee, 
Entrapped in the closing petals of the lotus. 

Mira’s lord is the courtly Giridhara. 
She says: Offer your mind 
To those lotus feet. 

Ghana Calls by W.E.B Du Bois

Dedicated to Kwame Nkrumah

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!

Shantiniketan Song – Rabindranath Tagore

Listen here

She is our own, the darling of our hearts, Santiniketan.

Our dreams are rocked in her arms.

Her face is a fresh wonder of love every time we see her,

for she is our own, the darling of our hearts.

In the shadows of her trees we meet

in the freedom of her open sky.

Her mornings come and her evenings

bringing down heaven’s kisses,

making us feel anew that she is our own, the darling of our hearts.

The stillness of her shades is stirred by the woodland whisper;

her amlaki groves are aquiver with the rapture of leaves.

She dwells in us and around us, however far we may wander.

She weaves our hearts in a song, making us one in music,

tuning our strings of love with her own fingers;

and we ever remember that she is our own, the darling of our hearts.