African American Poetry (1870-1928): A Digital Anthology

Countee Cullen, "A Song of Praise (For one who praised his lady's being fair)" (1924)

You have not heard my love's dark throat,
   Slow-fluting like a reed,
Release the perfect golden note
   She caged there for my need.

Her walk is like the replica
   Of some barbaric dance
Wherein the soul of Africa
   Is winged with arrogance.

And yet so light she steps across
   The ways her sure feet pass,
She does not dent the smoothest moss
   Or bend the thinnest grass.

My love is dark as yours is fair,
   Yet lovelier I hold her
Than listless maids with pallid hair,
   And blood that's thin and colder.

You-proud-and-to-be-pitied one,
   Gaze on her and despair;
Then seal your lips until the sun
   Discovers one as fair.

Published in Opportunity, September 1924
Also published in Color, 1925

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