African American Poetry (1870-1927): A Digital Anthology

Countee Cullen, "Protest" (1927)

Protest

(To John Trounstine)

I LONG not now, a little while at least,
For that serene interminable hour
When I shall leave this Barmecidal feast
With poppy for my everlasting flower;
I long not now for that dim cubicle
Of earth to which my lease will not expire,
Where he who comes a tenant there may dwell
Without a thought of famine, flood, or fire.

Surely that house has quiet to bestow—
Still tongue, spent pulse, heart pumped of its last throb,
The fingers tense and tranquil in a row,
The throat unwelled with any sigh or sob—
But time to live, to love, bear pain and smile,
Oh, we are given such a little while!