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

Claude McKay, "Roman Holiday" (1919)

'Tis but a modern Roman holiday;
Each state invokes its soul of basest passion,
​Each vies with each to find the ugliest way
​To torture Negroes in the fiercest fashion.
​Black Southern men, like hogs await your doom!
White wretches hunt and haul you from your huts,
​They squeeze the babies out your women's womb,
​They cut your members off, rip out your guts!

It is a Roman holiday, and worse,
It is the mad beast risen from his lair,
​The dead accusing years' eternal curse.
​Reeking of vengeance, in fulfilment here.
​Bravo, Democracy! Hail greatest Power
That saved sick Europe in her darkest hour!

Published in The Liberator July 1919;
Also published in Workers Dreadnought [London]. September 6, 1919.

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