From the Harlem Renaissance

I’m making a little departure from my normal blog with this post, but I just read some poetry from two Harlem Renaissance authors that really impressed me, and I’d like to share them with you. They come from an audio collection of music and words called Rhapsodies in Black. If you can find the four-disc boxed set, it’s definitely worth a listen. In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy this eloquent taste.



 Although she feed me bread of bitterness,

And sinks into my throat her tiger’s tooth,

Stealing my breath of life. I will confess

I love this cultured hell that tests my youth!

Her vigor flows like tides into my blood,

Giving me strength erect against her hate.

Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood.

Yet as a rebel fronts a king in state,

I stand within her walls with not a shred

Of terror, malice, not a word of jeer.

Darkly I gaze into the days ahead,

And see her might and granite wonders there,

Beneath the touch of Time’s unerring hand,

Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand.

Claude McKay

Originally published in The Liberator, a periodical (1921)



She does not know

Her beauty.

She thinks her brown body

Has no glory.


If she could dance


Under palm trees,

And see her image in the river

She would know.


But there are no palm trees

On the street,

And dish water gives back no images.

Waring Cuney

Originally published in Opportunity, a periodical (1926)


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