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

Claude McKay, "Baptism" (1921)

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.

Published in The Liberator, October 1921
Also published in Harlem Shadows, 1922
Also published in Survey Graphic, 1925
Also published in The New Negro: an Interpretation, 1925

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