The Drowsy World Dreams On

Welcome to Sunday Evening Reflection.

Tonight I want to introduce the poet, Walter Everette Hawkins, who was born around 1888 in North Carolina. He is the author of Chords and Discords (The Gorham Press, 1920). While his career was as a mail clerk in the post office of the City of Washington, he is known and remembered as a freethinker and poet.


The dedication of Chords and Discords was written as follows: “To the memory of a resolute Father, whose stern Christian Character finds agreeable balance in the pliant devotions of a kindly Mother and to the galaxy of Brothers and Sisters, whose kind indulgences have inspired my dreams, I dedicate this volume.”

I invite you to join me in reciting, The Drowsy World Dreams On by Walter Everette Hawkins:


The Drowsy World Dreams On

Walter Everette Hawkins

A flower bloomed out on a woodland hill,
A song rose up from the woodland rill;
But the floweret bloomed but to wither away,
And no man heard what the stream had to say,
For the drowsy world dreamed on.

Thro the frills of a curtain a moonbeam crept,
Till it fell on the crib where a nursling slept;
And a whisper and smile lit a wee dimpled face,
But none save the angels their beauty could trace,
For the drowsy world dreamed on.

A wee bird piped out mid the corn,
A rose bloomed out beneath the thorn;
But the scent of the rose and the birdling’s lay
On the winds of the morning were wafted away
While the drowsy world dreamed on.

And the drowsy old world’s growing gloomy and gray,
While the joys that are sweetest are passing away;
And the charms that inspire like the picture of dawn
Are but playthings of Time—they gleam and are gone,
While the drowsy world dreams on.

The Drowsy World Dreams on” appeared in Chords and Discords (The Gorham Press, 1920).This poem is in public domain.

Robert T. Kerlin, in his book Negro Poets and Their Poems, (page 125) says of Walter Everett Hawkins: “This is a faithful self-characterization—such a man in reality is Walter Everette Hawkins. A fearless and independent and challenging spirit. He is the rare kind of man that must put everything to the severe test of absolute principles. He hates shams, hypocrisies, compromises, chicaneries, injustices. His poems are the bold and faithful expressions of his personality. Free he has ever been, free he will be ever, striking right out for freedom and truth. Such a personality is refreshing to meet, whether you encounter it in the flesh or in a book.”

Published by Rebecca Budd

Blogger, Visual Storyteller, Podcaster, Traveler and Life-long Learner

45 thoughts on “The Drowsy World Dreams On

    1. I am delighted that you joined me on top of Burnaby Mountain, Liz!! When we climb mountains (literally and figuratively), I find there is a greater clarity of vision. Welcome to a new week of possibilities!!

      Liked by 4 people

    1. I am delighted that you enjoyed this poem, Jean-Jacques. Thank you for your visit and comments. I had never heard of Walter Everette Hawkins before I received my poem-a-day e-mail that featured “The Drowsy World Dreams On.” He was a voice for universal justice, freedom and peace. He was quite outspoken for his time and was against all forms of hypocrisy. I am fascinated by how poetry of the past informs the poetry of today.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I am delighted that you joined me at Simon Fraser Univerisity Campus on Burnaby Mountain, Mandy. It happened to be a quiet day on campus, just before all of the convocation celebrations. I am sitting by the Trottier Observatory, which is the flagship facility in the Faculty of Science’s myriad outreach programs. According to SFU’s website, “The Trottier Studio for Innovative Science Education and the Trottier Observatory and Science Courtyard have been bringing science education and astronomy to students, families, and the general public since 2014.” I always feel like I am amongst the stars. Many thanks for your visit and comments. Sending hugs!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You would love Simon Fraser University, Mandy, which celebrated its 50th anniversary a few years ago. Just before you enter Convocation Mall, there is a open space called Freedom Square, with a plaque that reads: “FREEDOM SQUARE | 17-20 MARCH 1967 | IN MEMORY OF THE RALLIES THAT TOOK PLACE IN THIS SQUARE IN THE DEFENCE OF ACADEMIC FREEDOM.”

        Isn’t it interesting how stories are attached to location.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Many thanks for joining me on Burnaby Mountain, Margaret. I confess that I had never heard of Walter Everette Hawkins either until I received my poem-a-day email that introduced him to me. I am fascinated by his influenced on poetry of today. I continue to learn and learn and learn…

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh Shey, I had never heard of Walter Everette Hawkins until my poem-a-day emails arrived at my inbox. I did not know how important his was to the progress of poetry. I am finding that poetry comes from the most unexpected sources. A mail clerk as pivotal in a transition period of poetry!!! I am fascinated by Walter Everette Hawkins’ ability to combine gentleness with a determined call to action. He was fearless in his quest for justice, peace and fairness. Many thanks for your visit and comments – very much appreciated.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, Colleen. When I look back into public domain poetry, which is my latest personal research project, I see how the past has informed the poetry of the present. For example, Walter Everette Hawkins, influenced the emerging poets of the Harlem Renaissance. “Dreams” by Langston Hughes seems to echo those of Walter Everette Hawkins:

      Hold fast to dreams
      For if dreams die
      Life is a broken-winged bird
      That cannot fly.

      Hold fast to dreams
      For when dreams go
      Life is a barren field
      Frozen with snow.

      I enjoyed our discussion about how poetry is influence by the past and by cultural memories. Many thanks for your visit and comments.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. A great, wise, and melancholy poem wonderfully recited by you, Rebecca. Yes, the small but not really small moments need to be noticed and appreciated. Thank you for introducing us to another poet who should be better known.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I knew you would enjoy this poet, Dave. Walter Everette Hawkins was pivotal in the transition to the poetry of the Harlem Renaissance. His poetry is nuanced by his belief in social justice, fairness and peace. The Drowsy World Dreams On is a call to action, which is something that appears to be an underlying theme in his poetry. He believed that striving for racial justice was central to his role as a Black poet. I understand that June 19th was Juneteenth commemorating the end of slavery in the United States – June 19, 1865. Always enjoy our conversations, Dave!

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi Rebecca, aren’t these lines just amazing: And the charms that inspire like the picture of dawn
    Are but playthings of Time—they gleam and are gone, They hold so much meaning about the fragility and briefness of life. A wonderful poem, thank you for your beautiful rendition.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Many thanks for your heartwarming comments, Robbie. As you can see I am on a poetry research adventure that is exploring public domain poetry. How does poetry of the past inform and guide the poetry of today? For example, Walter Everette Hawkins was pivotal in the transition from genteel modes of the 19th century to the more direct poetry of the Harlem Renaissance. He was noted for attacking societal hypocrisy and for seeking universal justice, freedom and peace. I am fascinated by how he weaves a soft gentleness into his poetry and yet delivers a strident call to action.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hi Rebecca, poetry has always fascinated me too. It is a wonderful way of making a statement. My own poetry is quite strident and probably lacks the softness of Walter’s. My view is that many modern people have to be clubbed over the head to see anything outside of their own wants. Aren’t I awful! hehe

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I enjoy your poetry recitations, Robbie and look forward to every one. I think that every voice is unique and belongs within the context of the time. When I look back on public domain poetry, the messages still resonate and challenge us to engage. One of my most favouite poems of the Harlem Renaissance is “Mother to Son” by Langston Hughes. This is the poem recited by Langston Hughes:

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I am delighted that you joined me on Burnaby Mountain, Sylvia. I have signed up to a poem-a-day that is delivered to my in-box. I have been introduced to poets that I have never heard before. Many poets in public domain have long been forgotten and are no longer household names. I find it very interesting to look back and view the world through the lens of their poetic words.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. This is a precious poem, I enjoyed that you read it–very important words! And !!! The poet wrote his beautiful words in his spare time! For us, a very important reminder to spend out spare moments wisely, This is another lovely poem from the fantastic Burnaby Mountain, such an inspiring place! I (I enjoyed the circle with the stars inside) Thank you for beginning this series of poetry!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Many thanks for joining me on the Simon Fraser University Campus, Frances. Reading on top of a mountain has the flair of the dramatic. And that I was sitting by the Trottier Observatory was even more fun. I love university campuses – there is so much energy that comes from learning and discovering. I love the quote by Shelby Foote “A university is just a group of buildings gathered around a library.”

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Many thanks, Carolyn for your heartwarming comments. I agree – a man ahead of his times, foreshadowing and influencing the many changes that would come in the years ahead. I am glad that you joined me on top of the mountain.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you for joining me near the “stars” on Burnaby Mountain, Diana. Going back into public domain poetry has been an extraordinary adventure. I have met remarkable poets – most of whom I have never heard about before. Just this morning, my inbox received a poem by Annie Winifred Ellerman Bryher. She was born in Margate, England, on September 2, 1894, the daughter of multimillionaire Sir John Ellerman. Now, that promises t be an amazing backstory. Sending hugs your way!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. This is wonderful, Rebecca!
    I’m listening a second time while I comment.
    You are a wonderful reciter. The poem is sweet, bucolic and charming with its visuals, scents and sounds.
    Thank you for the introduction to Walter Everette Hawkins! {{hugs}}

    Liked by 2 people

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