"Of what avail is life why sigh and fret, When manly hopes are only born to fade? Although declared a man, a vassal yet By social caste a crime by heaven made!" writes politician, journalist and poet John Willis Menard in "The Negro's Lament," one of the poems in Lays in Summer Lands. Menard (1838-1893), the first African-American congressman (elected 1868) and a vocal advocate of black civil rights, spent much of his life in Florida, whose landscapes and vernaculars are prominent in his work. Editors Larry Eugene Rivers, history professor at Florida A&M University, University of Tampa English professor Richard Mathews and author Carter Brown Jr. (Laborers in the Vineyard of the Lord) have brought the book back into print for the first time since its initial publication in 1879. (Mar.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.