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

Countee Cullen, "To Lovers of Earth: Fair Warning" (1927)

To Lovers of Earth: Fair Warning

GIVE over to high things the fervent thought⁠
You waste on Earth; let down the righteous bar
Against a wayward peace too dearly bought
Upon this pale and passion-frozen star.
Sweethearts and friends, are they not loyal? Far
More fickle, false, perverse, far more unkind
Is Earth to those who give her heart and mind.

And you whose lusty youth her snares intrigue,
Who glory in her seas, swear by her clouds,
With Age, man’s foe, Earth ever is in league.
Time resurrects her even while he crowds
Your bloom to dust, and lengthens out your shrouds
A day’s length or a year’s; she will be young,
When your last cracked and quivering note is sung.

She will remain the Earth, sufficient still,
Though you are gone and with you that rare loss
That vanishes with your bewildered will.
And there shall flame no red, indignant cross
For you, no quick white scar of wrath emboss
The sky, no blood drip from a wounded moon,
And not a single star chime out of tune.