African American Poetry (1870-1926): A Digital Anthology

Countee Cullen, "Sweethearts" (1923)

They talk the silent night away,
   But speak no word by day;
One is a cedar trim and tall,
   His love a willow small.
The one stands proud with head held high,
   The other, coyly shy;
The cedar's limbs are hard and strong;
   The willow's voice is song.

By day when she would love to talk
   Across the garden walk, 
The cedar's rude as rude can be,
   Pretending not to see;
And then the willow turns away,
   And sulks throughout the day;
Sometimes she gives a little sigh,
   And once I saw her cry.

At night when our harsh words are said,
   And I am in my bed,
I hear in sweetest harmonies
   The language of those trees. 
I find the ivied balcony,
   Where through the gloom I see 
Two sweethearts in the yard below
   Whose speech all lovers know. 

Published in The Crisis, December 1923

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