Quantcast
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

When June comes dancing o’er the death of May

Three poems by Claude McKay

Claude McKay, the author of Amiable with Big Teeth: A Novel of the Love Affair Between the Communists and the Poor Black Sheep of Harlem
Claude McKay, the author of Amiable with Big Teeth: A Novel of the Love Affair Between the Communists and the Poor Black Sheep of Harlem

A Memory of June

  • When June comes dancing o’er the death of May, 
  • With scarlet roses tinting her green breast, 
  • And mating thrushes ushering in her day, 
  • And Earth on tiptoe for her golden guest, 
  • I always see the evening when we met — 
  • The first of June baptized in tender rain — 
  • And walked home through the wide streets, gleaming wet, 
  • Arms locked, our warm flesh pulsing with love’s pain. 
  • I always see the cheerful little room, 
  • And in the corner, fresh and white, the bed, 
  • Sweet scented with a delicate perfume, 
  • Wherein for one night only we were wed; 
  • Where in the starlit stillness we lay mute, 
  • And heard the whispering showers all night long, 
  • And your brown burning body was a lute 
  • Whereon my passion played his fevered song. 
  • When June comes dancing o’er the death of May, 
  • With scarlet roses staining her fair feet, 
  • My soul takes leave of me to sing all day 
  • A love so fugitive and so complete. 

America

  • 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. 

Africa

  • The sun sought thy dim bed and brought forth light, 
  • The sciences were sucklings at thy breast; 
  • When all the world was young in pregnant night 
  • Thy slaves toiled at thy monumental best. 
  • Thou ancient treasure-land, thou modern prize, 
  • New peoples marvel at thy pyramids! 
  • The years roll on, thy sphinx of riddle eyes 
  • Watches the mad world with immobile lids. 
  • The Hebrews humbled them at Pharaoh’s name. 
  • Cradle of Power! Yet all things were in vain! 
  • Honor and Glory, Arrogance and Fame! 
  • They went. The darkness swallowed thee again. 
  • Thou art the harlot, now thy time is done, 
  • Of all the mighty nations of the sun. 

Claude McKay (1889–1948) was a Jamaican poet and central figure of the Harlem Renaissance, a literary movement in the 1920s that heralded the talents of African-American writers, musicians, and artists. While he wrote a number of memorable poems, McKay was better known as a novelist. His novel Amiable with Big Teeth: A Novel of the Love Affair Between the Communists and the Poor Black Sheep of Harlem was published posthumously this year. Early on in his life McKay was an avid Communist sympathizer, but by the mid-1930s had become disillusioned and began to write against it. His work has influenced later African-American writers including James Baldwin and Richard Wright.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

San Diego Lotharios rejoice at news of mandatory 10 pm nightlife shutdown

Closed Doors = Closed Deals
Claude McKay, the author of Amiable with Big Teeth: A Novel of the Love Affair Between the Communists and the Poor Black Sheep of Harlem
Claude McKay, the author of Amiable with Big Teeth: A Novel of the Love Affair Between the Communists and the Poor Black Sheep of Harlem

A Memory of June

  • When June comes dancing o’er the death of May, 
  • With scarlet roses tinting her green breast, 
  • And mating thrushes ushering in her day, 
  • And Earth on tiptoe for her golden guest, 
  • I always see the evening when we met — 
  • The first of June baptized in tender rain — 
  • And walked home through the wide streets, gleaming wet, 
  • Arms locked, our warm flesh pulsing with love’s pain. 
  • I always see the cheerful little room, 
  • And in the corner, fresh and white, the bed, 
  • Sweet scented with a delicate perfume, 
  • Wherein for one night only we were wed; 
  • Where in the starlit stillness we lay mute, 
  • And heard the whispering showers all night long, 
  • And your brown burning body was a lute 
  • Whereon my passion played his fevered song. 
  • When June comes dancing o’er the death of May, 
  • With scarlet roses staining her fair feet, 
  • My soul takes leave of me to sing all day 
  • A love so fugitive and so complete. 

America

  • 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. 

Africa

  • The sun sought thy dim bed and brought forth light, 
  • The sciences were sucklings at thy breast; 
  • When all the world was young in pregnant night 
  • Thy slaves toiled at thy monumental best. 
  • Thou ancient treasure-land, thou modern prize, 
  • New peoples marvel at thy pyramids! 
  • The years roll on, thy sphinx of riddle eyes 
  • Watches the mad world with immobile lids. 
  • The Hebrews humbled them at Pharaoh’s name. 
  • Cradle of Power! Yet all things were in vain! 
  • Honor and Glory, Arrogance and Fame! 
  • They went. The darkness swallowed thee again. 
  • Thou art the harlot, now thy time is done, 
  • Of all the mighty nations of the sun. 

Claude McKay (1889–1948) was a Jamaican poet and central figure of the Harlem Renaissance, a literary movement in the 1920s that heralded the talents of African-American writers, musicians, and artists. While he wrote a number of memorable poems, McKay was better known as a novelist. His novel Amiable with Big Teeth: A Novel of the Love Affair Between the Communists and the Poor Black Sheep of Harlem was published posthumously this year. Early on in his life McKay was an avid Communist sympathizer, but by the mid-1930s had become disillusioned and began to write against it. His work has influenced later African-American writers including James Baldwin and Richard Wright.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Music follows nature – the Moldau, Central Asia's steppes, the Alps, the Appian Way , cliffs of Cornwall

We find Siegfried resting under a linden tree
Next Article

Two poems by Julia Wehner

A reminder of how richly good it is to feel, and to live
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer News — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Set 'em Up Joe — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close