“superb in love and logic” (from a poem by Robert Hayden)

I’ve brought you my own (previously published) poems, but I don’t believe I’ve shared another poet’s work. Today, I wanted to share with you a poem by American poet Robert Hayden, as this poem has been on my mind.

(Poetry is a favorite refuge of mine when I’m at a loss for words.)

In 1976, the United States’ Bicentennial year, Robert Hayden held the post of Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress; the post later became “Poet Laureate” of the United States. Hayden was America’s first Black Poet Laureate.

This poem by Robert Hayden was first published in his A Ballad of Remembrance (1962):

 

FREDERICK DOUGLASS

 

When it is finally ours, this freedom, this liberty, this beautiful

and terrible thing, needful to man as air,

usable as earth; when it belongs at last to all,

when it is truly instinct, brain matter, diastole, systole,

reflex action; when it is finally won; when it is more

than the gaudy mumbo jumbo of politicians:

this man, this Douglass, this former slave, this Negro

beaten to his knees, exiled, visioning a world

where none is lonely, none hunted, alien,

this man, superb in love and logic, this man

shall be remembered. Oh, not with statues’ rhetoric,

not with legends and poems and wreaths of bronze alone,

but with the lives grown out of his life, the lives

fleshing his dream of the beautiful, needful thing.

 

I wish you all a beautiful week.

 

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