Four Walls

Four great walls have hemmed me in.
Four strong, high walls:
Right and wrong,
Shall and shan’t.
The mighty pillars tremble when
My conscience palls
And sings its song—
I can, I can’t.

If for a moment Samson’s strength
Were given me I’d shove
Them away from where I stand;
Free, I know I’d love
To ramble soul and all,
And never dread to strike a wall.

Again, I wonder would that be
Such a happy state for me . . .
The going, being, doing, sham—
And never knowing where I am.
I might not love freedom at all;
My tired wings might crave a wall—
Four walls to rise and pen me in
This conscious world with guarded men.

From Caroling Dusk (Harper & Brothers, 1927), edited by Countee Cullen. This poem is in the public domain.