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

Claude McKay, "In the Hospital" (1927)

After the nights like days, the days like nights,
Crowded with movement, filled and overflowing,
Whirling like circling birds in aimless flights,
Dipping round gilded dome and steepled heights,
Blessed is being here and without knowing
Or caring of the city’s ways and sights.
With peace dearer than love within my breast,
Blessed is being here behind the curtain,
Blessed to know the meaning of real rest,
Where even thought can at its virile best
Be sweet, yet no less militant and certain
Than a fierce eagle folded in its nest.

Far from the petty troubles of the street,
And little men who mouth their little woe,
Blessed is being in this strange retreat,
Blessed the sleepy hours so long and sweet,
That fold me in from life my friend and foe,
With kindly bands about my hands and feet.

Like music blown through tropical corn sheaves,
Blessed the foreign tongue that soothes and charms,
Like golden drops of rain from thick-thatched eaves,
That fall into uplifted tania leaves,
Blessed disease, the bitter scourge, that warms
My chastened spirit that here new hope receives.

Published in The Crisis, February 1927

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