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

Countee Cullen, "Advice to a Beauty" (1927)

Advice to a Beauty

(To Sydonia)

OF ALL things, lady, be not proud;
Inter not beauty in that shroud
Wherein the living waste, the dead,
Unwept and unremember├ęd,
Decay. Beauty beats so frail a wing;
Suffer men to gaze, poets to sing
How radiant you are, compare
And favor you to that most rare
Bird of delight: a lovely face
Matched with an equal inner grace.
Sweet bird, beware the Fowler, Pride;
His knots once neatly crossed and tied,
The prey is caged and walled about
With no way in and no way out.