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  • Oscar Brown, Jr.


Set to satisfy the seasons

Separated by the sun

So arranged for cosmic reasons

Time goes on its measured run

Constant in the even distance

Between ages it reflects

As it designates each instance

Tells one moment from the next

In predictable proportions

Upon which all may depend

Time proceeds, free from distortions

Throughout life from end to end

As a force to figure frequency

By which movements are controlled

The determiner of sequence

In which all events unfold

The translator of gyrations

On which none of us could count

Into regular vibrations

Of a definite amount

Time is too fast to out race it

Far too vast to disappear

And with nothing to replace it

Time is always now and here

Proving equal to the challenge

In an ever changing race

Time provides the proper balance

Through which God delivers grace

But, though to all souls and nations

Time affords a common claim

To sequences and durations

All do not respond the same

Those from regions raw and frigid

Most mark time mechanically

Making movements stiff and rigid

Or they may grow panicky

In awkward anticipation

Of embarrassing defeats

Any time some syncopation

Comes to complicate life's beats

Unlike folk from more lush regions

Never so severely taxed

By cold winter's bitter legions

Who lived lives far more relaxed

Who had time to fully pleasure

In the tropics where they trod

Opportunity to treasure

And store up the Grace of God

Treasure then transported with 'em

From its source; from Africa

Smuggled in the form of rhythm

Slipped into America

In black bodies being bidden

Upon awful auction blocks

There the Grace of God came hidden

All among the slaver's stocks

Infiltrating the plantations

Seeping deep into the soil

With work songs and lamentations

They took time to temper toil

Making holy applications

Of their godly gift of grace

Spiritual supplications

Emanated from the slaves

And with slavery terminating

In a savage Civil War

They continued in creating

Music never heard before

Drawing on the syncopated

Feelings of a bygone day

When the drum's beat dominated

They began to sing and play

Serenades far more entrancing

Than any the world had known

Music that demanded dancing

As its tempo set its tone

They took Europe's tuned inventions

Piano, woodwind, and horn

Into African dimensions

From which unique sound was born

Sound that proved to be most moving

As it swung around the earth

Improvising and improving

Adding richly to its worth

To be in the moving presence

Of such swinging sound, of course

Focuses upon the essence

Of a profound moving force

All music is regulated

By this cosmic force sublime

Sounds and silence alternated

In relationships to time

Any time when subdivided

Into pleasing moving parts

Is part of the time provided

From the time life's movement starts

Making lifetime seem most pleasant

It is easily believed

Has to be the foremost present

Ever given or received

So in time the people gifted

With the Grace of God have found

Countless millions are uplifted

By this force of swinging sound

Like that Afro daughter moving

Delicately dancing feet

Or her running brother proving

He is a superb athlete

Call their talents balanced quickness

Agile equilibrium

Smooth, efficient innate "slickness"

Lithe and lively it's become

Dancing as their "bounden" duty

Undulating bodies turn

Celebrating basic beauty

Make it easy to discern

But discerning, some still fear it

Sticking to a solid stance

Stiffly stifling gracious spirit

Seldom granting grace a chance

Having seized the time and took it

On a European trip

They reshaped the world and shook it

In their most mechanic grip

Storming out of dungeon dwellings

Dark and stark as open graves

Warriors in numbers swelling

Burst from European caves

Venturing down fjord and river

Vikings with a vicious stroke

Found new techniques to deliver

Violence to distant folk

Building bloody reputations

Widely known to go berserk

Devastating civilizations

Once they went to warring work

Driven from the cold to conquest

They descended in a one

Sided military contest

On those laid back in the sun

Never daring to be neighbors

To those of a differing breed

Europeans became slavers

Given to ungrateful greed

Those whom nature turned on coldly

Were by nature turned as cold

So they took the world on boldly

First to have and then to hold

Which continues to this minute

Europeans, still uptight

Claim our time and all that's in it

Theirs to run with all their might

But their might has the potential

To destroy humanity

What we face today essentially

Is mass insanity

Among those who seem to cherish

Threatening with their nuclear blasts

All the people who would perish

Were such time to come to pass

Countless millions of the faces

Born to share this time of life

Would be wiped from countless places

Should it come to nuclear strife

How long do we have to cower

Being threatened and suppressed

By some military power

That proclaims its way is "best"

And enforces this opinion

Violently as they do

Which is how they gain dominion

Over me as well as you

How long before some untimely

Action makes it "action time"

And the nuclear powers sublimely

Perpetrate the final crime

For regardless of the glories

Of old battles lost or won

Few will live to tell their stories

Once this next " World War" gets done

Too few to repair the damage

And destruction it would bring

Therefore, we must somehow manage

To prevent that happening

Fashioning times far more gracious

Than those Europeans know

We'll discover time can take us

Right to where we have to go

Where in time we will learn music

Known to soothe the savage breast

Is our weapon, if we use it

To lay dangerous times to rest

So the trials and tribulations

Which these trying times have wrought

Can give way to sweet vibrations

In which harmonies are sought

Swing is the harmonic motion

Governing the Universe

It must be the healing potion

We apply against the curse

We will remain living under

Until we get our times right

To prevent another blunder

Into European might

Music will unite the offspring

Of those stole from Africa

Music is the blessed offering

We gave to America

Where the guns of Europe held us

In captivity so long

That the Grace of God compelled us

To transcend slavery in song

Music will provide a focus

Upon which the world can fix

Music has some hocus pocus

To make up a magic mix

That will uplift human spirit

And inspire the heart and soul

Influencing all who hear it

And come under its control

To keep time in close connection

With life's Universal laws

Is the only sound protection

Human beings have because

Set to satisfy the seasons

We receive under the sun

So arranged for cosmic reasons

Time goes on its measured run

Proving equal to the challenge

In an ever-changing race

Time provides the proper balance

Through which God delivers grace

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