The New Negro Anthology, Poems

  1. A Brown Girl
  4. Part I
  5. Night
  6. Part II
  7. Part I
  8. Night
  9. Part II
  10. Georgia Dusk
  11. Minstrel Man
  12. OUR LAND
  14. Tableau
  19. The Tropics in New York
  22. Escape
  24. Harlem Wine
  26. I TOO
  27. Like a Strong Tree
  28. POEM
  30. SONG
  31. Song of the Sun
  32. The Black Finger
  37. YOUTH


Text Color = Literary Device

Border = Rhyme Scheme

Background Color = Theme

"A Brown Girl Dead"

With two white roses on her breasts,
White candles at head and feet,
Dark Madonna of the grave she rests;
Lord Death has found her sweet.

Her mother pawned her wedding ring
To lay her out in white;
She’d be so proud she’d dance and sing
To see herself to-night.

-Countée Cullen


To fling my arms wide 7
In some place of the sun,
To whirl and to dance
Till the bright day is done.
Then rest at cool evening
Beneath a tall tree
While night comes gently
Dark like me.
That is my dream.
To fling my arms wide
In the face of the sun.
Dance! Whirl! Whirl!
Till the quick day is done.
Rest at pale evening,
A tall, slim tree,
Night coming tenderly
Black like me.

-Langston Hughes


Part I


The moonlight:
Juice flowing from an over-ripe pomegranate
The cossack-crested palm trees:
The leopard spotted shade:
Inciting fear
silence seeds sown . . .

Part II

Medicine Dance

A body smiling with black beauty
Leaping into the air
Around a grotesque hyena-faced monster;

The Sorcerer—
A black body—dancing with beauty

Clothed in African moonlight,
Smiling more beauty into its body .
The hyena-faced monster yelps!
The twirling bodycomes to a fall
At the feet of the monster.
Thehyena-faced monsterjumps
chases his own yelps back to the wilderness.

The black body clothed in moonlight
Raises up its head,
Holding a face dancing with delight .
Terror reigns like a new crowned king.

Part I


The moonlight:
Juice flowing from an over-ripe pomegranate
The cossack-crested palm trees:
The leopard spotted shade:
Inciting fear
silence seeds sown . . .

Part II

Medicine Dance

A body smiling with black beauty
Leaping into the air
Around a grotesque hyena-faced monster;

The Sorcerer—
A black body—dancing with beauty

Clothed in African moonlight,
Smiling more beauty into its body .
The hyena-faced monster yelps!
The twirling bodycomes to a fall
At the feet of the monster.
Thehyena-faced monsterjumps
chases his own yelps back to the wilderness.

The black body clothed in moonlight
Raises up its head,
Holding a face dancing with delight .
Terror reigns like a new crowned king.

Georgia Dusk

The sky, lazily disdaining to pursue
The setting sun, too indolent to hold
A lengthened tournament for flashing gold,
Passively darkens for night’s barbecue,

A feast of moon and men and barking hounds,
An orgy for some genius of the South
With blood-hot eyes and cane-lipped scented mouth,
Surprised in making folk-songs from soul sounds.

The sawmill blows its whistle, buzz-saws stop,
And silence breaks the bud of knoll and hill,
Soft settling pollen where ploughed lands fulfill
Their early promise of a bumper crop.

Smoke from the pyramidal sawdust pile
Curls up, blue ghosts of trees, tarrying low
Where only chips and stumps are left to show
The solid proof of former domicile.

Meanwhile, the men, with vestiges of pomp,
Race memories of king and caravan,
High-priests, an ostrich, and a juju-man,
Go singing through the footpaths of the swamp.

Their voices rise . . . the pine trees are guitars ,
Strumming, pine-needles fall like sheets of rain . . .
Their voices rise . . . the chorus of the cane
# Is carolling a vesper to the stars.

O singers, resinous and soft your songs
Above the sacred whisper of the pines,
Give virgin lips to cornfield concubines,
Bring dreams of Christ to dusky cane-lipped throngs.

-Jean Toomer

Minstrel Man

Because my mouth
Is wide with laughter
And my throat Is
deep with song,
You do not think
I suffer after
I have held my pain
So long.

Because my mouth
Is wide with laughter,
You do not hear
My inner cry,
Because my feet
Are gay with dancing,
You do not know
I die .

-Langston Hughes


We should have a land of sun,
Of gorgeous sun ,
And a land of fragrant water
Where the twilight is a soft bandanna handkerchief
Of rose and gold,
And not this land
Where life is cold.

We should have a land of trees,
Of tall thick trees,
Bowed down with chattering parrots
Brilliant as the day,
And not this land where birds are gray.

Ah, we should have a land of joy,
Of love and joy and wine and song,
And not this land where joy is wrong.

-Langston Hughes


And what would I do in heaven, pray,
Me with my dancing feet,
And limbs like apple boughs that sway
When the gusty rain winds beat?

And how would I thrive in a perfect place
Where dancing would be sin,
With not a man to love my face,
Nor an arm to hold me in?

The seraphs and the cherubim
Would be too proud to bend
To sing the faery tunes that brim
My heart from end to end.

The wistful angels down in hell
Will smile to see my face,
And understand, because they fell
From that all-perfect place.

-Countée Cullen


Locked arm in arm they cross the way,
The black boy and the white,
The golden splendor of the day
The sable pride of night.

From lowered blinds the dark folk stare
And here the fair folk talk,
Indignant that these two should dare
In unison to walk.

Oblivious to look and word
They pass, and see no wonder
That lightning brilliant as a sword
Should blaze the path of thunder.

-Countée Cullen


We are not come to wage a strife
With swords upon this hill,
It is not wise to waste the life
Against a stubborn will.
Yet would we die as some have done.
Beating a way for the rising sun.

-Arna Bontemps


I’ve known rivers . . .
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow
of human blood in human veins.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young,
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep,
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.

I heard the singing of the Mississippi when
Abe Lincoln went down to New Orleans,
And I’ve seen its muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset.

I’ve known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers,
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

-Langston Hughes


That brown girl’s swagger gives a twitch
To beauty like a queen;
Lad, never dam your body’s itch
When loveliness is seen.

For there is ample room for bliss
In pride in clean, brown limbs ,
And lips know better how to kiss
Than how to raise white hymns .

And when your body’s death gives birth
To soil for spring to crown,
Men will not ask if that rare earth
Was white flesh once, or brown .

Countée Cullen


What if his glance is bold and free.
His mouth the lash of whips?
So should the eyes of lovers be,
And so a lover's lips.

What if no puritanic strain
Confines him to the nice?
He will not pass this way again
Nor hunger for you twice.

Since in the end consort together
Magdalen and Mary ,
Youth is the time for careless weather;
Later, lass, be wary.

-Countée Cullen

The Tropics in New York

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, bringing memories>
Of fruit-trees laden by low-singing rills,
And dewy dawns, and mystical blue skies>
In benediction over nun-like hills.

My eyes grew dim, and I could no more gaze;
A wave of longing through my body swept,
And, hungry for the old familiar ways,
I turned aside and bowed my head and wept.

-Claude McKay


It’s an earth song,
And I’ve been waiting long for an earth song.
It’s a spring song,—
And I’ve been waiting long for a spring song.

Strong as the shoots of a new plant
Strong as the bursting of new buds
Strong as the coming of the first child from its mother’s

It’s an earth song,
A body-song,
A spring song,—
I have been waiting long for this spring song.

-Langston Hughes


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 the frailest bone,
You will not note a flicker of defeat;
My heart shall tremble not its fate to meet,
Nor mouth give utterance to any moan.
The yawning oven spits forth fiery spears;
Red aspish tongues shout wordlessly my name.
Desire destroys, consumes my mortal fears,
Transforming me into a shape of flame.

I will come out, back to your world of tears,
A stronger soul within a finer frame.

-Claude McKay


Shadows, shadows,
Hug me round
So that I shall not be found
By sorrow:
She pursues me
I can’t lose her
Fold me in your black
She will never look
In this,—
Shadows, shadows,
Hug me round
In your solitude
Georgia Douglas Johnson


My father is a quiet man
With sober, steady ways;
For simile, a folded fan;
His nights are like his days.

My mother’s life is puritan,
No hint of cavalier,
A pool so calm you’re sure it can
Have little depth to fear.

And yet my father’s eyes can boast
How full his life has been;
There haunts them yet the languid ghost
Of some still sacred sin.

And though my mother chants of God,
And of the mystic river,
I’ve seen a bit of checkered sod
Set all her flesh aquiver.

Why should he deem it pure mischance
A son of his is fain
To do a naked tribal dance
Each time he hears the rain?

Why should she think it devil’s art
That all my songs should be
Of love and lovers, broken heart,
And wild sweet agony?

Who plants a seed begets a bud,
Extract of that same root;
Why marvel at the hectic blood
That flushes this wild fruit?

Countée Cullen

"Harlem Wine"

This is not water running here,
These thick rebellious streams
That hurtle flesh and bone past fear
Down alleyways of dreams.

This is a wine that must flow on
Not caring how or where,
So it has ways to flow upon
Where song is in the air.

So it can woo an artful flute
With loose, elastic lips,
Its measurement of joy compute
With blithe, ecstatic hips.

-Countée Cullen


Along the shore the tall, thin grass
That fringes that dark river,
While sinuously soft feet pass,
Begins to bleed and quiver.

The great dark voice breaks with a sob
Across the womb of night;
Above your grave the tom-toms throb,
And the hills are weird with light.

The great dark heart is like a well
Drained bitter by the sky,
And all the honeyed lies they tell
Come there to thirst and die.

No lie is strong enough to kill
The roots that work below;
From your rich dust and slaughtered will
A tree with tongues will grow.

Countée Cullen


I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes.
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I’ll sit at the table
When company comes
Nobody ’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen”

Besides, they’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed,—

I, too, am America.

Langston Hughes

"Like A Strong Tree"

Like a strong tree that in the virgin earth
Sends far its roots through rock and loam and clay,
And proudly thrives in rain or time of dearth,
When the dry waves scare rainy sprites away;
Like a strong tree that reaches down, deep, deep,
For sunken water, fluid underground,
Where the great-ringed unsightly blind worms creep,
And queer things of the nether world abound:
So would I live in rich imperial growth,
Touching the surface and the depth of things,
Instinctively responsive unto both,
Tasting the sweets of being and the stings,
Sensing the subtle spell of changing forms,
Like a strong tree against a thousand storms.

-Claude McKay


Being walkers with the dawn and morning
Walkers with the sun and morning,
We are not afraid of night,
Nor days of gloom,
Nor darkness,
Being walkers with the sun and morning.

-Langston Hughes.


Bow down my soul in worship very low
And in the holy silences be lost.
Bow down before the marble man of woe,
Bow down before the singing angel host.

What jewelled glory fills my spirit's eye!
What golden grandeur moves the depths of me!
The soaring arches lift me up on high
Taking my breath with their rare symmetry.

Bow down my soul and let the wondrous light
Of Beauty bathe thee from her lofty throne
Bow down before the wonder of man's might.
Bow down in worship, humble and alone;
Bow lowly down before the sacred sight
Of man's divinity alive in stone.

Claud McKay


Lovely, dark, and lonely one,
Bare your bosom to the sun,
Do not be afraid of light
You who are a child of night.
Open wide your arms to life,
Whirl in the wind of pain and strife,
Face the wall with the dark closed gate,
Beat with bare, brown fists
And wait.

-Langston Hughes

"Song Of The Son"

Pour, O pour that parting soul in song,
O pour it in the saw-dust glow of night,
Into the velvet pine-smoke air to-night,
And let the valley carry it along,
And let the valley carry it along.

O land and soil, red soil and sweet-gum tree,
So scant of grass, so profligate of pines,
Now just before an epoch’s sun declines
Thy son, in time, I have returned to thee,
Thy son, I have in time returned to thee.

In time, although the sun is setting on
A song-lit race of slaves, it has not set;
Though late, O soil, it is not too late yet
To catch thy plaintive soul, leaving, soon gone,
Leaving, to catch thy plaintive soul soon gone.

O Negro slaves, dark purple ripened plums,
Squeezed, and bursting in the pine-wood air,
Passing, before they strip the old tree bare
One plum was saved for me, one seed becomes

An everlasting song, a singing tree,
Caroling softly souls of slavery,
What they were, and what they are to me,
Carolling softly souls of slavery.

-Jean Toomer

"The Black Finger"

I have just seen a most beautiful thing
Slim and still,
Against a gold, gold sky,
A straight black cypress,
A black finger
Pointing upwards.
Why, beautiful still finger, are you black?
And why are you pointing upwards?

-Angelina Grimke


A Negro Sermon

And God stepped out on space,
And He looked around and said,
“I'm lonely
I'll make me a world.”

And as far as the eye of God could see
Darkness covered everything,
Blacker than a hundred midnights
Down in a cypress swamp.

Then God smiled,
And the light broke,

And the darkness rolled up on one side,
And the light stood shining on the other,
And God said, “That's good!"

Then God reached out and took the light in His hands,
And God rolled the light around in His hands
Until He made the sun;
And He set that sun a-blazing in the heavens.
And the light that was left from making the sun
God gathered it up in a shining ball
And flung it against the darkness,
Spangling the night with the moon and stars.
Then down between
The darkness and the light
He hurled the world;
And God said, “That's good,"

Then God Himself stepped down—
And the sun was on His right hand
And the moon was on His left;
The stars were clustered about His head,
And the earth was under His feet.
And God walked, and where He trod
His footsteps hollowed the valleys out
And bulged the mountains up.

Then He stopped and looked, and saw
That the earth was hot and barren.
So God stepped over to the edge of the world
And He spat out the seven seas;
He batted His eyes, and the lightnings flashed;
He clapped His hands, and the thunders rolled;
And the waters above the earth came down,
The cooling waters came down.

Then the green grass sprouted,
And the little red flowers blossomed,
The pine tree pointed his finger to the sky,
And the oak spread out his arms,

And the lakes cuddled down in the hollows of the ground,
And the rivers ran to the sea;
And God smiled again,
And the rainbow appeared,
And curled itself around His shoulder.

Then God raised His arm and He waved His hand,
Over the sea and over the land,
And He said, “Bring forth. Bring forth.”
And quicker than God could drop His hand
Fishes and fowls
And beasts and birds
Swam the rivers and the seas,
Roamed the forests and the woods,
And split the air with their wings.
And God said, “That's good.”

Then God walked around,
And God looked around
On all that He had made.
He looked at His sun,
And He looked at His moon,
And He looked at His little stars;
He looked on His world,
With all its living things,
And God said, “I'm lonely still.”

Then God sat down
On the side of a hill where He could think;
By a deep, wide river He sat down;
With His head in His hands,
God thought and thought,
Till He thought, “I'll make me a man.”

Up from the bed of a river
God scooped the clay;
And by the bank of the river
He kneeled Him down;

And there the great God Almighty
Who lit the sun and fixed it in the sky,
Who flung the stars to the most far corner of the night,
Who rounded the earth in the middle of His hand;
This Great God,
Like a mammy bending over her baby,
Kneeled down in the dust
Toiling over a lump of clay
Till He shaped it in His own image;

Then into it He blew the breath of life,
And man became a living soul.
Amen. Amen.

-James Weldon Johnson


Ho! my brother,
Pass me not by so scornfully
I’m doing this living of being black,
Perhaps I bear your own life-pack,
And heavy, heavy is the load
That bends my body to the road.

But I have kept a smile for fate,
I neither cry, nor cringe, nor hate,
Intrepidly, I strive to bear
This handicap. The planets wear
The Maker’s imprint, and with mine
I swing into their rhythmic line;
I ask—only for destiny,
Mine, not thine.

-Georgia Douglas Johnson


Strange to a sensing motherhood,
Loved as a toy—not understood,
Child of a dusky father, bold;
Frail little captive, exiled, cold.

Oft when the brooding planets sleep,
You through their drowsy empires creep,
Flinging your arms through their empty space,
Seeking the breast of an unknown face.

-Georgia Douglas Johnson


Your door is shut against my tightened face,
And I am sharp as steel with discontent;
But I possess the courage and the grace
To bear my anger proudly and unbent.
The pavement slabs burn loose beneath my feet,
A chafing savage, down the decent street,
And passion rends my vitals as I pass,
Where boldly shines your shuttered door of glass.
Oh I must search for wisdom every hour,
Deep in my wrathful bosom sore and raw,
And find in it the superhuman power
To hold me to the letter of your law!
Oh I must keep my heart inviolate
Against the potent poison of your hate.

-Claude McKay


We have to-morrow
Bright before us
Like a flame

Yesterday, a night-gone thing
A sun-down name

And dawn to-day
Broad arch above the road we came,
We march!

-Langston Hughes