Henrietta Cordelia Ray was an African-American poet and teacher. She was the sister of Charlotte E. Ray.
In 1891, Ray graduated from the University of the City of New York with a master’s in pedagogy. She also studied French, German, Greek and Latin at the Saveneur School of Languages. She became a schoolteacher, but stopped teaching in order to write.
We climb the slopes of life with throbbing heart,
And eager pulse, like children toward a star.
Sweet siren music cometh from afar,
To lure us on meanwhile. Responsive start
The nightingales to richer song than Art
Can ever teach. No passing shadows mar
Awhile the dewy skies; no inner jar
Of conflict bids us with our quest to part.
We see adown the distance, rainbow-arched,
What melting aisles of liquid light and bloom!
We hasten, tremulous, with lips all parched,
And eyes wide-stretched, nor dream of coming gloom.
Enough that something held almost divine
Within us ever stirs. Can we repine?