Poet and community leader in Louisville, Kentucky, Cotter was raised in poverty with no formal education until the age of 22. He later became an educator and an advocate of black education. He is the ... [+]

I sang me a song, a tiny song,
A song that was sweet to my soul,
And set it a-float on the sea of chance
In search of a happy goal.

I said to my song: "Go on, go on
And lodge in a tender spot
Of some human soul where the fires of hate
And selfishness are not."

My song went on but a little space
And hied it back to me;
And fell at my feet in a sorry plight—
The victim of cruelty.

I gazed a moment and quickly saw
Just how it had come about,
A cruel critic had caught my song
And probed the soul of it out.

O, poor indeed is the human mind
(And why was it ever wrought?)
That can thrive on husk in the form of words,
And not on a sturdy thought.