Ode To Ethiopia

Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)


Ode To Ethiopia brings the pride of being colored not only to African Americans, but to the people that bore them: the Native Africans. Black American History would be nothing without its native roots, and though they may be a bit unsettling, these roots inevitably define the term “African American” itself. This Poem is significant to Black History because it shines a light on one of the places where the black struggle began.

O Mother Race! to thee I bring
This pledge of faith unwavering,
This tribute to thy glory.
I know the pangs which thou didst feel,
When Slavery crushed thee with its heel,
With thy dear blood all gory.

Sad days were those—ah, sad indeed!
But through the land the fruitful seed
of better times was growing.
The plant of freedom upward sprung,
And spred its leaves so fresh and young—
Its blossoms now are blowing.

On every hand in this fair land,
Proud Ethiope’s swarthy children stand
Beside their fairer neighbour;
The forests flee before their stroke,
Their hammers ring their forges smoke,
They sit in honest labour.

They tread the fields where honour calls;
Their voices sound through senate halls
In majesty and power.
To right they cling; the hymns they sing
Up to the skies in beauty ring,
And bolder grow each hour.

Be proud, my race, in mind and soul;
Thy name is writ on Glory’s scroll
In characters of fire.
High ‘mid the clouds of Fame’s bright sky
Thy banner’s blazoned folds now fly,
And truth shall lift them higher.

Thou hast the right to noble pride,
Whose spotless robes were purified
By blood’s severe baptism.
Upon thy brow the cross was laid,
And labour’s painful sweat-beads made
A consecrating chrism.

No other race, or white or black,
When bound as thou wert, to the rack,
So seldom stooped to grieving;
No other race, when free again,
Forgot the past and proved them men
So noble in forgiving.

Go on and up! Our souls and eyes
Shall follow thy continuous rise;
Our ears shall list thy story
From bards who from thy root shall spring,
and proudly tune their lyres to sing
Of Ethiopia’s glory.