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

Countee Cullen, "More Than a Fool's Song" (1927)

More Than a Fool’s Song

(To Edward Perry)

GO LOOK for beauty where you least
Expect to hear her hive;
Regale your belly with a feast
Of hunger till you thrive.

For honest treatment seek the thief;
For truth consult the liar;
Court pleasure in the halls of grief;
Find smoothness on a briar.

The worth impearled in chastity
Is known best of the harlot,
And courage throws her panoply
On many a native varlet.

In Christian practice those who move
To symbols strange to us
May reckon clearer of His love
Than we who own His cross.

The world’s a curious riddle thrown
Water-wise from heaven’s cup;
The souls we think are hurtling down
Perhaps are climbing up.