Textual History

This poem also appeared in The Liberator (January, 1922): [*] Claude McKay Futility The Liberator (January, 1922): 23 .


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  1. Oh,* I have tried to laugh the pain away,

  2. Let new flames brush my love-springs1 like a feather.

  3. But the old fever seizes me to-day,

  4. As sickness grips a soul in wretched weather.

  5. I have given up myself to every urge,

  6. With not a care of precious powers spent,

  7. Have bared my body to the strangest scourge,

  8. To soothe and deaden my heart's unhealing rent.

  9. But you have torn a nerve out of my frame,

  10. A gut that no physician can replace,

  11. And reft2 my life of happiness and aim.

  12. Oh what new purpose shall I now embrace?

  13. What substance hold, what lovely form pursue,

  14. When my thought burns through everything to you?


Harlem Shadows (1922)

Additional Poems by Claude McKay

Contemporary Reviews

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