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

Countee Cullen, " A Song No Gentleman Would Sing to Any Lady" (1927)

There are some things I might not know 
Had you not pedagogued me so; 
And these I thank you for, 
Now never shall a piquant face 
Cause my tutored heart a trace 
Of anguish any more. 
Before your pleasure made me wise, 
A simulacrum of disguise 
Masked the serpent and the dove; 
That I discern now hiss from coo, 
My heart's full gratitude to you, 
Lady I had learned to love. 
Before I knew love well I sang 
Many a polished pain and pang, 
With proper bardic zeal; 
But now I know hearts do not break 
So easily, and though a snake 
Has made them wounds may heal. 

Published in Ebony and Topaz, 1927

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