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Hello. Come on in. The daddy writes about current events, literature, music and, once in a while, drops something on you from back in the day to make you pause and ponder, stop and stare, and begin to wonder. Who knows? You may start to pace the floor, shake your head from side to side, then fall down on bended knees in a praying position and cry, "Lawd, have mercy! What is this world coming to?" Check yourself! But this blog is NOT about the daddy. It's about you: your boos, your fam, your hood, your country...our hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow. So let's make a pact: the daddy will put it on the track if you'll chase it down and hit him back. Together, we can definitely take it to another level. Shall we?"

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Countee Cullen, A Harlem Renaissance Poet

Countee Cullen (1903 - 1946)
Countee Cullen

Listen up. On this day, The Daddy is feeling Countee Cullen, who was born on May 30, 1903. He was a lyric poet influenced by English poet John Keats.

Cullen is tied to the Harlem Renaissance, that period of great outpouring of literature of black Americans. However, Cullen was different from many of the poets of that time like Langston Hughes in that he wrote in the traditional English style of poets like Keats and Shelley and was resistant to the modernist technique. And he considered poetry to be "raceless." Nonetheless, his best poems dealt with racial themes, such as "The Black Christ."


Cullen wrote a novel dealing with life in Harlem entitled, "One Way To Heaven." He also wrote sonnets and short lyrics. But his best works were in poems, especially poems that hit on themes that lie at the heart of African Americans existence.

His volumes of poetry include:

* Color,
* Copper Sun,
* The Black Christ, and
* On These I Stand

Perhaps Cullen is best known for the poem "Yet Do I Marvel."

Yet Do I Marvel

I doubt not God is good, well-meaning,
kind,
And did He stoop to quibble could tell why
The little buried mole continues blind,
Why flesh that mirrors
Him must some day die,
Make plain the reason tortured
Tantalus Is baited by the fickle fruit,
declare
If merely brute caprice dooms Sisyphus
To struggle up a never-ending stair.
Inscrutable His ways are, and immune
To catechism by a mind too strewn
With petty cares to slightly understand
What awful brain compels His awful hand.
Yet do I marvel at this curious thing:
To make a poet black, and bid him sing!

6 comments:

CareyCarey said...

You're doing it over here boy. That's 2 days in a row that you've taken us down memory lane. I don't profess to be a hugh Countee Cullen fan but the whole renaissance period has a lure about it. Without that period of time and the writers it produced we would be less as a people. Well, African American Literature is on a decline. The money is going to folks like Zane, street lit writers and E Lynn Harris.

The new movie coming out (Oprah Money) starring Mariah Carey is based on a book that wasn't great literature.

Anyway, it was interesting how some of the renaissance authors had to "get their money". Well, I think there was a popular name called "matrons". School me, wasn't Countee involved in a bit of controversy marriage? ...white women? ...a beef with Langston Hughes?

I love Langstons work. I even have some of his audio tapes. That was a mistake because his voice is kind of weird to me.

XO said...

I don't care for his English style sonnets, etc but like this one and a few others. Studied him in school but didn't learn much about the
Harlem Renaissance. Will you be writing more about this period?

MacDaddy said...

CareyCarey: Yes, that period was fantastic: the greatest outpouring of black literature. I'll continue to do work from that period. But I'll have to check on whether African American literature is declining. It could also be that we, the public, is not be exposed to it. Writers could be penning some of the best stuff ever, but we may not even know about it. I'll check.

XO: I don't care for most of his stuff either for the same reason. And, yes, I'll be writing more about this period. In introducing the writers, I'll try to provide some background about the period. I hope you come back to check it out. Blessings.

judy said...

Love Yet Do I Marvel. Thank you for the reminder, Daddy.

MountainLaurel said...

I love that poem. It speaks to me and heals the soul. It doesn't hurt that his birthday is the same as my uncle's, my mother's twin, whom I miss every day.

Chi-Chi, The Original Wombman said...

I really admire Countee Cullen. Having been taken with writing poetry in the English style (sonnets) while in high school, I appreciate how difficult it is. And he caught a lot of flack for it too . . . but stuck with it. Anyway, that's one of my favorite poems by Cullen.