Poetry Friday: 1927

I am so pleased to have reached 1927, not merely because I was running out of good poetry from 1926, but because it gives me another chance to return to a poet I admire more every time I read him: Countee Cullen.  His 1927 anthology, Copper Sun, bears one of the best dedications I’ve seen: “To the Not Impossible Her”.  And the first poem in the collection is one of the best sonnets ever written by an American, in my opinion, and one that offers layers of meaning.  So I encourage you to comment—offering an opinion (whether it matches mine or no), and suggesting what you think the poem is really saying about race—on this poem, “From The Dark Tower (To Charles S. Johnson)”:

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.

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