Claude McKay's Early Poetry (1911-1922): A Digital Collection

To Work

The Dawn! the Dawn, the crimson-tinted comes
Out of the low still skies, over the hills,
New York's fantastic spires and cheerless domes,-
The Dawn! my spirit to its spirit thrills.
Almost the mighty city is asleep,
No pushing-crowd, no tramping, tramping feet;
But here and there a few cars, groaning, creep
Along, above and underneath the street,
Bearing their strangely-ghostly burdens by,
The women and the men of garish nights,
Their eyes wine-weakened and their clothes awry,
Nodding under the strong electric lights.
On through the waning shadows of New York,
Before the Dawn, I wend my way to work.

(Spring in New Hampshire and Other Poems [1921], Cambridge Magazine [1920])
(A variant of this poem appears as "Dawn in New York" in Harlem Shadows [1922])
(Edited and Proofread by Amardeep Singh)

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