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

Countee Cullen, "Dad" (1922)

His ways are circumspect and bound
With trite simplicities;
His is the grace of comforts found
In homely hearthside ease.
His words are sage and fall with care,
Because he loves me so;
And being his, he knows, I fear,
The dizzy path I go.
For he was once as young as I,
As prone to take the trail,
To find delight in the sea’s low cry,
And a lone wind’s lonely wail.
It is his eyes that tell me most
How full his life has been;
There lingers there the faintest ghost
Of some still sacred sin.
So I must quaff Life’s crazy wine,
And taste the gall and dregs;
And I must spend this wealth of mine,
Of vagrant wistful legs;
And I must follow, follow, follow
The lure of a silver horn,
That echoes from a leafy hollow,
Where the dreams of youth are born.
Then when the star has shed its gleam,
The rose its crimson coat;
When Beauty flees the hidden dream,
And Pan’s pipes blow no note;
When both my shoes are worn too thin,
My weight of fire to bear,
I’ll turn like dad, and like him win
The peace of a snug arm-chair.

Published in The Crisis, November 1922

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