Now the dead past seems vividly alive,
         And in this shining moment I can trace,
Down through the vista of the vanished years,
         Your faun-like form, your fond elusive face.

And suddenly some secret spring’s released,
         And unawares a riddle is revealed,
And I can read like large, black-lettered print,
         What seemed before a thing forever sealed.

I know the magic word, the graceful thought,
         The song that fills me in my lucid hours,
The spirit’s wine that thrills my body through,
         And makes me music-drunk, are yours, all yours.

I cannot praise, for you have passed from praise,
         I have no tinted thoughts to paint you true;
But I can feel and I can write the word;
         The best of me is but the least of you.

From Harlem Shadows (New York, Harcourt, Brace and company, 1922) by Claude McKay. This poem is in the public domain.