For the dim regions whence my fathers came
My spirit, bondaged by the body, longs.
Words felt, but never heard, my lips would frame;
My soul would sing forgotten jungle songs.
I would go back to darkness and to peace,
But the great western world holds me in fee,
And I may never hope for full release
While to its alien gods I bend my knee.
Something in me is lost, forever lost,
Some vital thing has gone out of my heart,
And I must walk the way of life a ghost
Among the sons of earth, a thing apart;
For I was born, far from my native clime,
Under the white man's menace, out of time.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on July 7, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“Outcast” was published in Harlem Shadows (Harcourt, Brace, 1922).
Claude McKay, who was born in Jamaica in 1889, wrote about social and political concerns from his perspective as a black man in the United States, as well as a variety of subjects ranging from his Jamaican homeland to romantic love.
Date Published: 1922-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/outcast