To a Dark Girl
I love you for your brownness,
And the rounded darkness of your breast,
I love you for the breaking sadness in your voice
And shadows where your wayward eyelids rest.
Something of old forgotten queens
Lurks in the lithe abandon of your walk
And something of the shackled slave
Sobs in the rhythm of your talk.
Oh, little brown girl, born for sorrow's mate,
Keep all you have of queenliness,
Forgetting that you once were slave,
And let your full lips laugh at Fate!
From The Book of American Negro Poetry (Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1922) edited by James Weldon Johnson. This poem is in the public domain.
Gwendolyn Bennett, a teacher, artist, and writer, was born in Giddings, Texas in 1902. She never published her collected work, but her poems, short stories, and nonfiction columns appeared in literary journals, among them Opportunity, Fire!! and Palms. Bennett was connected to the Harlem Renaissance and a dedicated supporter of African American writers and artists through support groups, community centers, and schools. She died in Reading, Pennsylvania in 1981.
Date Published: 1922-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/dark-girl