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

Countee Cullen, "The Poet" (1927)

The Poet

LEST any forward thought intrude
Of death and desolation,
Upon a mind shaped but to brood
On wonder and creation,
He keeps an unremittent feud
Against such usurpation.

His ears are tuned to all sharp cries
Of travail and complaining,
His vision stalks a new moon’s rise
In every old moon’s waning,
And in his heart pride’s red flag flies
Too high for sorrow’s gaining.

Thus militant, with sword in hand,
His battle shout renewing,
He feels all faith affords is planned,
As seeds, for rich accruing;
Death ties no knot too gordianed
For his deft hands’ undoing.