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

Countee Cullen, "Telling Tales" (1923)

("And at dusk on the following day, the prince came to the foot of the tower and cried: 

'Rapunzel, Rapunzel,
Let down your golden hair.'"


Love to love must make its stair
Out of wind and mad desire;
Love, let down your tangled hair.

Rose and rambling bud may fare
Climbing veins of living wire;
Love to love must make its stair.

Silken webs of light to snare
Soul and body to your hire,
Love, let down your tangled hair.

Lark and swallow, pair by pair,
Wing their way while I aspire;
Love to love must make its  stair.

Heaven drops no ladder where
Feet of mine sink down in mire;
Love, let down your tangled hair.

Trembling on my lips a prayer,
Let me rise to you through fire;
Love to love must make its stair;
Love, let down your tangled hair.

Published in The Crisis, April 1923

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