Alfonso, Dressing to Wait at Table

Alfonso is a handsome bronze-hued lad
         Of subtly-changing and surprising parts;
His moods are storms that frighten and make glad,
         His eyes were made to capture women’s hearts.

Down in the glory-hole Alfonso sings
         An olden song of wine and clinking glasses
And riotous rakes; magnificently flings
         Gay kisses to imaginary lasses.

Alfonso’s voice of mellow music thrills
         Our swaying forms and steals our hearts with joy;
And when he soars, his fine falsetto trills
         Are rarest notes of gold without alloy.

But, O Alfonso! wherefore do you sing
         Dream-songs of carefree men and ancient places?
Soon we shall be beset by clamouring
         Of hungry and importunate palefaces.

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