Textual History

This poem later appeared in [] , where it was split into two stanzas (an octave and a sestet).


  • Editorial Notes ?
  • Highlight Variants ?


On a Primitive Canoe

  1. Here, passing lonely down this quiet lane,

  2. Before a mud-splashed window long I pause

  3. To gaze and gaze, while through my active brain

  4. Still thoughts are stirred to wakefulness; because

  5. Long, long ago in a dim unknown land,

  6. A massive forest-treeforest tree, ax-felled, adze-hewn1,

  7. Was deftly done by cunning mortal hand

  8. Into a symbol of the tender moon.

  9. Why does it thrill more than the handsome boat

  10. That bore me o'er the wild Atlantic ways,

  11. And fill me with rare sense of things remote

  12. From this harsh life of fretful nights and days?

  13. I cannot answer but, whate'er it be,

  14. An old wine has intoxicated me.


Harlem Shadows (1922)

Additional Poems by Claude McKay

Contemporary Reviews

Supplementary Texts