Analyze the poem "lift Every Voice and Sing"
Im having some trouble understanding the following poem and interpreting it.
Lyrics are below:
Lift every voice and sing, till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise, high as the list’ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith
that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope
that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.
Stony the road we trod, bitter the chast’ning rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat, have not our weary feet,
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way
that with tears has been watered.
We have come, treading our path
thro’ the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from a gloomy past, till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam
of our bright star is cast.
God of our weary years, God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who hast by thy might, led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places
Our God where we met Thee,
Lest our hearts drunk with the wine of the world
we forget Thee;
Shadowed beneath Thy hand
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land.
"Lift Every Voice and Sing" was written in 1900 to celebrate the birthday of Abraham Lincoln. The words were written by James Weldon Johnson, principal of the segregated school were the poem was introduced prior to the keynote presentation by Booker T. Washington. The poem was set to music was composed by his brother John Rosamond Johnson, and over the years it became recognized as "The Negro/Black/African-American National Anthem."
It conveys a powerful message of resilience and hope. The words express "the faith that the dark past has taught us," confident in "the hope that the present has brought us." It recognizes those who were beaten, those who were killed, those who were forced away from families and homes but never gave up hope of reaching a better place.
The final stanza is an appeal to God to continue to support and protect those who have traveled "thus far on the way" as they press on to reach "where the white gleam of our bright star is cast." It ends with a prayer - "May we forever stand, True to our God, True to our native land."