Countee Cullen, black poet.
For my grandmother
This lovely flower fell to seed;
Work gently sun and rain;
She held it as her dying creed
That she would grow again.
NYer, born in 1903, raised a strict methodist and turned pagan. NY university, Harvard. Published works “Color”, “The Ballad of the Brown Girl” and “Copper Sun”.
His greatest wish was to be read as a poet, not to be judged on the brown colour of his skin. I am pointing out they are black, because otherwise most people assume Countee Cullen was white. And everyone needs bright, shining examples, especially when their bodies are walked over, shot, fetishized, taken, used to scare and control and whitewashed and hidden– on a daily basis.
From the Dark Tower.
We shall not always plant while others reap
The golden increment of bursting fruit,
Not always countenance, abject and mute
That lesser men should hold their brothers cheap;
Not everlastingly while others sleep
Shall we beguile their limbs with mellow flute,
Not always bend to some more subtle brute;
We were not made eternally to weep.
The night whose sable breast relieves the stark
White stars is no less lovely being dark,
And there are buds that cannot bloom at all
In light, but crumple, piteous, and fall;
So in the dark we hide the heart that bleeds,
And wait, and tend our agonizing seeds.
Words can never hurt. Unless you hear them again and again.
Once riding in old Baltimore,
Heart-filled, head-filled with glee,
I saw a Baltimorean
Keep looking straight at me.
Now I was eight and very small,
And he was no whit bigger,
And so I smiled, but he poked out
His tongue, and called me, ‘Nigger.’
I saw the whole of Baltimore
From May until December;
Of all the things that happened there
That’s all that I remember.
From Caroling Dusk. See http://www.abebooks.com for your own copy!!