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

Fruit of the Flower by Countee Cullen

My father is a quiet man
   With sober, steady ways;
For simile, a folded fan;
   His nights are like his days.

My mother's life is puritan,
   No hint of cavalier,
A pool so calm you're sure it can
   Have little depth to fear.

And yet my father's eyes can boast
   How full his life has been;
There haunts them yet the languid ghost
   Of some still sacred sin.

And though my mother chants of God,
   And of the mystic river,
I've seen a bit of checkered sod
   Set all her flesh aquiver.

Why should he deem it pure mischance
   A son of his is fain
To do a naked tribal dance
   Each time he hears the rain?

Why should she think it devil's art
   That all my songs should be
Of love and lovers, broken heart,
   And wild sweet agony?

Who plants a seed begets a bud,
   Extract of that same root;
Why marvel at the hectic blood
   That flushes this wild fruit?

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