Claude McKay
If We Must Die by Claude McKay

If We Must Die by Claude McKay

If we must die, let it not be like hogs Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot, While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs, Making their mock at our accursed lot. If we must ...

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America by Claude McKay

America by Claude McKay

Although she feeds 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! ...

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Enslaved by Claude McKay

Enslaved by Claude McKay

Oh when I think of my long-suffering race, For weary centuries despised, oppressed, Enslaved and lynched, denied a human place In the great life line of the Christian West; ...

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Flame-Heart by Claude McKay

Flame-Heart by Claude McKay

So much have I forgotten in ten years,So much in ten brief years! I have forgotWhat time the purple apples come to juice,And what month brings the shy forget-me-not.I have forgot ...

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Courage by Claude McKay

Courage by Claude McKay

O lonely heart so timid of approach, Like the shy tropic flower that shuts its lips To the faint touch of tender finger tips: What is your word? What question would you broach? ...

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Birds Of Prey by Claude McKay

Birds Of Prey by Claude McKay

Their shadow dims the sunshine of our day, As they go lumbering across the sky, Squawking in joy of feeling safe on high, Beating their heavy wings of owlish gray. They scare the ...

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A Memory Of June by Claude McKay

A Memory Of June by Claude McKay

When June comes dancing o'er the death of May, With scarlet roses tinting her green breast, And mating thrushes ushering in her day, And Earth on tiptoe for her golden guest, I ...

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Romance by Claude McKay

Romance by Claude McKay

To clasp you now and feel your head close-pressed,Scented and warm against my beating breast;To whisper soft and quivering your name,And drink the passion burning in your frame;To ...

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Polarity by Claude McKay

Polarity by Claude McKay

Nay, why reproach each other, be unkind, For there's no plane on which we two may meet? Let's both forgive, forget, for both were blind, And life is of a day, and time is fleet. ...

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Alfonso, Dressing To Wait At Table by Claude McKay

Alfonso, Dressing To Wait At Table by Claude McKay

Alfonso is a handsome bronze-hued lad Of subtly-changing and surprising parts; His moods are storms that frighten and make glad, His eyes were made to capture women's hearts. Down ...

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French Leave by Claude McKay

French Leave by Claude McKay

No servile little fear shall daunt my will This morning. I have courage steeled to say I will be lazy, conqueringly still, I will not lose the hours in toil this day. The roaring ...

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Flirtation by Claude McKay

Flirtation by Claude McKay

UPON thy purple mat thy body bare Is fine and limber like a tender tree. The motion of thy supple form is rare, Like a lithe panther lolling languidly, Toying and turning slowly ...

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I Shall Return by Claude McKay

I Shall Return by Claude McKay

I shall return again; I shall return To laugh and love and watch with wonder-eyes At golden noon the forest fires burn, Wafting their blue-black smoke to sapphire skies. I shall ...

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Dawn In New York by Claude McKay

Dawn In New York by Claude McKay

The Dawn! The Dawn! The crimson-tinted, comes Out of the low still skies, over the hills, Manhattan's roofs and spires and cheerless domes! The Dawn! My spirit to its spirit ...

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A Red Flower by Claude McKay

A Red Flower by Claude McKay

Your lips are like a southern lily red, Wet with the soft rain-kisses of the night, In which the brown bee buries deep its head, When still the dawn's a silver sea of light. Your ...

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Outcast by Claude McKay

Outcast by Claude McKay

For the dim regions whence my fathers came My spirit, bondaged by the body, longs. Words felt, but never heard, my lips would frame; My soul would sing forgotten jungle songs. I ...

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Harlem Shadows by Claude McKay

Harlem Shadows by Claude McKay

I hear the halting footsteps of a lassIn Negro Harlem when the night lets fallIts veil. I see the shapes of girls who passTo bend and barter at desire's call.Ah, little dark girls ...

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The City’s Love by Claude McKay

The City’s Love by Claude McKay

For one brief golden moment rare like wine, The gracious city swept across the line; Oblivious of the color of my skin, Forgetting that I was an alien guest, She bent to me, my ...

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Flower Of Love by Claude McKay

Flower Of Love by Claude McKay

The perfume of your body dulls my sense. I want nor wine nor weed; your breath alone Suffices. In this moment rare and tense I worship at your breast. The flower is blown, The ...

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Africa by Claude McKay

Africa by Claude McKay

The sun sought thy dim bed and brought forth light, The sciences were sucklings at thy breast; When all the world was young in pregnant night Thy slaves toiled at thy monumental ...

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A Prayer by Claude McKay

A Prayer by Claude McKay

'Mid the discordant noises of the day I hear thee calling; I stumble as I fare along Earth's way; keep me from falling. Mine eyes are open but they cannot see for gloom of night: ...

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The Harlem Dancer by Claude McKay

The Harlem Dancer by Claude McKay

Applauding youths laughed with young prostitutes And watched her perfect, half-clothed body sway; Her voice was like the sound of blended flutes Blown by black players upon a ...

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The Lynching by Claude McKay

The Lynching by Claude McKay

His Spirit in smoke ascended to high heaven. His father, by the cruelest way of pain, Had bidden him to his bosom once again; The awful sin remained still unforgiven. All night a ...

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The Snow Fairy by Claude McKay

The Snow Fairy by Claude McKay

I Throughout the afternoon I watched them there, Snow-fairies falling, falling from the sky, Whirling fantastic in the misty air, Contending fierce for space supremacy. And they ...

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Heritage by Claude McKay

Heritage by Claude McKay

Now the dead past seems vividly alive,And in this shining moment I can trace,Down through the vista of the vanished years,Your faun-like form, your fond elusive face. And suddenly ...

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Exhortation: Summer 1919 by Claude McKay

Exhortation: Summer 1919 by Claude McKay

Through the pregnant universe rumbles life's terrific thunder, And Earth's bowels quake with terror; strange and terrible storms break, Lightning-torches flame the heavens, ...

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Absence by Claude McKay

Absence by Claude McKay

Your words dropped into my heart like pebbles into a pool, Rippling around my breast and leaving it melting cool. Your kisses fell sharp on my flesh like dawn-dews from the limb, ...

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Adolescence by Claude McKay

Adolescence by Claude McKay

There was a time when in late afternoon The four-o'clocks would fold up at day's close Pink-white in prayer, and 'neath the floating moon I lay with them in calm and sweet repose. ...

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Futility by Claude McKay

Futility by Claude McKay

Oh, I have tried to laugh the pain away, Let new flames brush my love-springs like a feather. But the old fever seizes me to-day, As sickness grips a soul in wretched weather. I ...

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The Spanish Needle by Claude McKay

The Spanish Needle by Claude McKay

Lovely dainty Spanish needle With your yellow flower and white, Dew bedecked and softly sleeping, Do you think of me to-night? Shadowed by the spreading mango, Nodding o'er the ...

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North And South by Claude McKay

North And South by Claude McKay

O sweet are tropic lands for waking dreams! There time and life move lazily along. There by the banks of blue-and-silver streams Grass-sheltered crickets chirp incessant song, ...

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My Mother by Claude McKay

My Mother by Claude McKay

I Reg wished me to go with him to the field, I paused because I did not want to go; But in her quiet way she made me yield Reluctantly, for she was breathing low. Her hand she ...

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The Easter Flower by Claude McKay

The Easter Flower by Claude McKay

Far from this foreign Easter damp and chilly My soul steals to a pear-shaped plot of ground, Where gleamed the lilac-tinted Easter lily Soft-scented in the air for yards around; ...

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December, 1919 by Claude McKay

December, 1919 by Claude McKay

Last night I heard your voice, mother,The words you sang to meWhen I, a little barefoot boy,Knelt down against your knee.And tears gushed from my heart, mother,And passed beyond ...

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In Bondage by Claude McKay

In Bondage by Claude McKay

I would be wandering in distant fields Where man, and bird, and beast, lives leisurely, And the old earth is kind, and ever yields Her goodly gifts to all her children free; Where ...

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After The Winter by Claude McKay

After The Winter by Claude McKay

Some day, when trees have shed their leavesAnd against the morning's whiteThe shivering birds beneath the eavesHave sheltered for the night, We'll turn our faces southward, ...

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When I Have Passed Away by Claude McKay

When I Have Passed Away by Claude McKay

When I have passed away and am forgotten, And no one living can recall my face, When under alien sod my bones lie rotten With not a tree or stone to mark the place; Perchance a ...

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I Know My Soul by Claude McKay

I Know My Soul by Claude McKay

I plucked my soul out of its secret place, And held it to the mirror of my eye, To see it like a star against the sky, A twitching body quivering in space, A spark of passion ...

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Home Thoughts by Claude McKay

Home Thoughts by Claude McKay

Oh something just now must be happening there! That suddenly and quiveringly here, Amid the city's noises, I must think Of mangoes leaning o'er the river's brink, And dexterous ...

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The Tropics In New York by Claude McKay

The Tropics In New York by Claude McKay

Bananas ripe and green, and ginger-root,Cocoa in pods and alligator pears,And tangerines and mangoes and grape fruit,Fit for the highest prize at parish fairs,Set in the window, ...

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White Houses by Claude McKay

White Houses by Claude McKay

Your door is shut against my tightened face,And I am sharp as steel with discontent;But I possess the courage and the graceTo bear my anger proudly and unbent.The pavement slabs ...

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The Tired Worker by Claude McKay

The Tired Worker by Claude McKay

O whisper, O my soul! The afternoon Is waning into evening, whisper soft! Peace, O my rebel heart! for soon the moon From out its misty veil will swing aloft! Be patient, weary ...

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Commemoration by Claude McKay

Commemoration by Claude McKay

When first your glory shone upon my face My body kindled to a mighty flame, And burnt you yielding in my hot embrace Until you swooned to love, breathing my name. And wonder came ...

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Rest In Peace by Claude McKay

Rest In Peace by Claude McKay

No more for you the city's thorny ways, The ugly corners of the Negro belt; The miseries and pains of these harsh days By you will never, never again be felt. No more, if still ...

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The White City by Claude McKay

The White City by Claude McKay

I will not toy with it nor bend an inch. Deep in the secret chambers of my heart I muse my life-long hate, and without flinch I bear it nobly as I live my part. My being would be ...

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Baptism by Claude McKay

Baptism by Claude McKay

Into the furnace let me go alone;Stay you without in terror of the heat.I will go naked in--for thus ''tis sweet--Into the weird depths of the hottest zone.I will not quiver in ...

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When Dawn Comes To The City by Claude McKay

When Dawn Comes To The City by Claude McKay

The tired cars go grumbling by, The moaning, groaning cars, And the old milk carts go rumbling by Under the same dull stars. Out of the tenements, cold as stone, Dark figures ...

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Song Of The Moon by Claude McKay

Song Of The Moon by Claude McKay

The moonlight breaks upon the city's domes,And falls along cemented steel and stone,Upon the grayness of a million homes,Lugubrious in unchanging monotone. Upon the clothes behind ...

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To Winter by Claude McKay

To Winter by Claude McKay

Stay, season of calm love and soulful snows! There is a subtle sweetness in the sun, The ripples on the stream's breast gaily run, The wind more boisterously by me blows, And each ...

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Thirst by Claude McKay

Thirst by Claude McKay

My spirit wails for water, water now! My tongue is aching dry, my throat is hot For water, fresh rain shaken from a bough, Or dawn dews heavy in some leafy spot. My hungry body's ...

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