Countee Cullen, "If Love be Staunch" (1925)
If love be staunch, call mountains brittle;
Love is a thing will live
So long, my dear,—oh, just the little
While water stays in a sieve.
Yea, love is deathless as the day
Whose death the stars reveal;
And love is loyal all the way,
If treachery be leal.
Beyond the shadow of a doubt,
No thing is sweet as love,
But, oh, the bitterness spewed out
Of the heart at the end thereof!
Beyond all cavil or complaint,
Love’s ways are double-dyed;
Beneath the surplice of a saint
The cloven hooves are spied.
Whom yesterday love rhymed his sun
Today he names a star;
When the course of another day is run,
What will he say you are?
Published in The Crisis, October 1925