Textual History

This poem also appeared in The Liberator (August, 1921): [*] Claude McKay Africa The Liberator (August, 1921): 20 , where even numbered lines were indented, and [] .


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  1. The sun sought thy dim bed and brought forth light,

  2. The sciences were sucklings at thy breast;

  3. When all the world was young in pregnant night

  4. Thy slaves toiled at thy monumental best.;*

  5. Thou ancient treasure-landtreasure land, thou modern prize,

  6. New peoples marvel at thy pyramids!;*

  7. The years roll on, thy sphinx of riddle eyesriddle-eyes

  8. Watches the mad world with immobile lids.;*

  9. The Hebrews humbled them at Pharaoh's name.;*

  10. Cradle of Power! Yet all things were in vain!

  11. Honor Honour* and Glory, Arrogance and Fame!

  12. They went. The darkness swallowed thee again.

  13. Thou art the harlot, now thy time is done,

  14. Of all the mighty nations of the sun.


Harlem Shadows (1922)

Additional Poems by Claude McKay

Contemporary Reviews

Supplementary Texts