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Short poem

Claude McKay (1889-1948)


              1Oh when I think of my long-suffering race,
              2For weary centuries despised, oppressed,
              3Enslaved and lynched, denied a human place
              4In the great life line of the Christian West;
              5And in the Black Land disinherited,
              6Robbed in the ancient country of its birth,
              7My heart grows sick with hate, becomes as lead,
              8For this my race that has no home on earth.
              9Then from the dark depths of my soul I cry
            10To the avenging angel to consume
            11The white man's world of wonders utterly:
            12Let it be swallowed up in earth's vast womb,
            13Or upward roll as sacrificial smoke
            14To liberate my people from its yoke!

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Harlem Shadows: The Poems of Claude McKay, with an introduction by Max Eastman (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1922): 32. PS 3525 A24785 H3 Robarts Library.
First publication date: July 1921
Publication date note: Liberator (July 1921).
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1998.
Recent editing: 2:2002/4/4

Form: sonnet
Rhyme: ababcdcdefefgg

Other poems by Claude McKay