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

Black Magdalens by Countee Cullen

These have no Christ to spit and stoop
   To write upon the sand,
Inviting him that has not sinned
   To raise the first rude hand.

And if he came they could not buy
   Rich ointment for his feet,
The body's sale scarce yields enough
   To let the body eat.

The chaste clean ladies pass them by
   And draw their skirts aside,
But Magdalens have a ready laugh;
   They wrap their wounds in pride.

They fare full ill since Christ forsook
   The cross to mount a throne,
And Virtue still is stooping down
   To cast the first hard stone.

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