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.
Claude McKay, a Jamaican born writer and poet, was a major figure in the Harlem Renaissance. In fact, his poetry collection Harlem Shadows (1922) is often cited as the beginning of the movement. Besides his poetry, he also remembered for notable prose works, including the novels Home to Harlem (1928) and Banjo (1929), the short story collection Gingertown (1932), and the memoir A Long Way from Home (1937).