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

Countee Cullen, "In Spite of Death" (1927)

In Spite of Death

ALL things confirm me in the thought that dust,
Once raised to monumental pride of breath,
To no extent affirms the right of death
To raze such splendor to an ancient crust.
“Grass withereth, the flower fadeth;” yea,
But in the violated seed exults,
The bleakest winter through, a deathless pulse,
Beating, “Spring wipes this sacrilege away.”

No less shall I in some new fashion flare
Again, when death has blown my candles out;
Although my blood went down in shameful rout
Tonight, by all this living frame holds fair,
Though death should closet me tonight, I swear
Tomorrow’s sun would find his cupboard bare.