Sunday, December 11, 2011

Claude McKay (1889-1948)

The Harlem Dancer

Applauding youths laughed with young prostitutes
And watcher her perfect, half-clothed body say;
Her voice was like the sound of blended flutes
Blown by black players upon a picnic day.
She sang and danced on gracefully and calm,
The light gauze hanging loose about her form;
To me she seemed a proudly-swing palm
Grown lovelier for passing through a storm.
Upon her swarthy neck black shiny curls
luxuriant fell; and tossing coins in praise,
The wine-flushed, bold-eyed boys, and even the girls,
Devoured her shape with eager, passionate gaze;
But looking at her falsely-smiling face,
I knew her self was not in that strange place.

(from Harlem Shadows, 1922)

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