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

Claude McKay, "The Void" (1924)

He crouches strangely in the little bed
And earnestly stares blankly into space,
Reason forever more from him has fled,
A child's mind settles sadly on his face.

The classic loveliness of plain white walls,
The shadows softening the long, low ceiling,
Against the low dull lights at evening fall,
Impart to the sick room a holy feeling.

Maybe no hand once trembled with desire,
Sheer love of form, to touch that ugly brow,
But here disease-transformed, scourged by the fire, 
Beauty the loftiest has touched it now. 

Published in The Crisis, June 1924

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