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

Countee Cullen, "Youth Sings a Song of Rosebuds" (1927)

Youth Sings a Song of Rosebuds

(To Roberta)

SINCE men grow diffident at last,
And care no whit at all,
If spring be come, or the fall be past,
Or how the cool rains fall,

I come to no flower but I pluck,
I raise no cup but I sip,
For a mouth is the best of sweets to suck;
The oldest wine’s on the lip.

If I grow old in a year or two,
And come to the querulous song
Of “Alack and aday” and “This was true,
And that, when I was young,”

I must have sweets to remember by,
Some blossom saved from the mire,
Some death-rebellious ember I
Can fan into a fire.