Friday, July 3, 2015

America


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!
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


Claude McKay (1889-1948) was the first major poet to arise from the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s with the publication of his collection of poems Harlem Shadows in 1922 from which America is from. As well as publishing four volumes of poetry, McKay also authored novels, short stories and non-fiction. Born in Jamaica, he first came to America in 1912 to further his education.