Poetry Friday: America

January 14th, 2011

This Friday’s poem by Claude McKay comes from Alfred Tatum’s book Teaching Reading to Black Adolescent Males: Closing the Achievement Gap. Tatum explains that he selected this text for his black male students to prompt them to make connections between who they were, who they are, and who they could become. “Focusing on black male empowerment during literacy insruction is an effective way to engage black males with text,” Tatum says.

America
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 the tides into my blood,
Give me strength erect agains 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 or 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 pricess treasures sinking in the sand.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. laurasalas  |  January 14th, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Thanks for sharing this–those first three lines–whew! And I also love

    I stand within her walls with not a shred
    Of terror, malice,

    Such strong language in this! Beautiful.

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