Monday, July 1, 2013

Monday's Poetry: "America"

by Pa Rock
Poetry Appreciator

Claude McKay was an early 20th century poet who participated in the American experience known as the Harlem Renaissance.  As a poet, and as an author of novels and short stories, he was able to express quite poignantly some of the struggles and humiliations that he endured growing up and surviving as a black man in Jim Crow era America.

McKay's poem, America, is presented here as a reminder that we all view our country from a variety of personal perspectives, some starkly different than others.  While McKay endured hardship and institutionalized racism, his view of America is ultimately positive, or at least hopeful.

As our Independence Day approaches, all of us need to realize that while we live in a great land, there is still much to be done to provide hope and real opportunity to all who call this nation home.

by Claude McKay

Although she feeds me bread of bitterness,
And sinks into my throat her tiger’s tooth,
Stealing my breath of life, I will confess
I love this cultured hell that tests my youth.
Her vigor flows like tides into my blood,
Giving me strength erect against her hate,
Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood.
Yet, as a rebel fronts a king in state,
I stand within her walls with not a shred
Of terror, malice, not a word of jeer.
Darkly I gaze into the days ahead,
And see her might and granite wonders there,
Beneath the touch of Time’s unerring hand,
Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand.

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