Your door is shut against my tightened face, And I am sharp as steel with discontent; But I possess the courage and the grace To bear my anger proudly and unbent. The pavement slabs burn loose beneath my feet, And passion rends my vitals as I pass, A chafing savage, down the decent street; Where boldly shines your shuttered door of glass. Oh, I must search for wisdom every hour, Deep in my wrathful bosom sore and raw, And find in it the superhuman power To hold me to the letter of your law! Oh, I must keep my heart inviolate Against the potent poison of your hate.
Claude McKay - 1889-1948
Joy in the Woods
There is joy in the woods just now, The leaves are whispers of song, And the birds make mirth on the bough And music the whole day long, And God! to dwell in the town In these springlike summer days, On my brow an unfading frown And hate in my heart always— A machine out of gear, aye, tired, Yet forced to go on—for I’m hired. Just forced to go on through fear, For every day I must eat And find ugly clothes to wear, And bad shoes to hurt my feet And a shelter for work-drugged sleep! A mere drudge! but what can one do? A man that’s a man cannot weep! Suicide? A quitter? Oh, no! But a slave should never grow tired, Whom the masters have kindly hired. But oh! for the woods, the flowers Of natural, sweet perfume, The heartening, summer showers And the smiling shrubs in bloom, Dust-free, dew-tinted at morn, The fresh and life-giving air, The billowing waves of corn And the birds’ notes rich and clear:— For a man-machine toil-tired May crave beauty too—though he’s hired.