Monday, October 15, 2018

Joseph Seamon Cotter

Joseph Seamon Cotter (1861—1949) is the author of six books of poetry, including A White Song and a Black One (1909). He is also among the first black American playwrights to have their work published. Although he had received little formal education prior to adulthood, he became a grammar school teacher and principal — serving in Louisville schools for over fifty years. He was a close friend of the poet Paul Laurence Dunbar.

Cotter and his wife had four children, including Joseph Seamon Cotter Jr. — a promising young poet, who died of tuberculosis at age 23.
Cotter’s Collected Poems appeared in 1938.

Sonnet To Negro Soldiers

They shall go down unto Life's Borderland,
Walk unafraid within that Living Hell,
Nor heed the driving rain of shot and shell
That 'round them falls; but with uplifted hand
Be one with mighty hosts, an arméd band
Against man's wrong to man—for such full well
They know. And from their trembling lips shall swell
A song of hope the world can understand.
All this to them shall be a glorious sign,
A glimmer of that resurrection morn,
When age-long Faith crowned with a grace benign
Shall rise and from their brows cast down the thorn
Of prejudice. E'en though through blood it be,
There breaks this day their dawn of Liberty.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection is Ampersand (2018, Cascade). His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock, including the anthologies The Turning Aside, and Adam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse.