One Year After


  1. Not once in all our days of poignant love,

  2. Did I a single instant give to thee

  3. My undivided being wholly free.

  4. Not all thy potent passion could remove

  5. The barrier that loomed between to prove

  6. The full supreme surrendering of me.

  7. Oh, I was beaten, helpless utterly

  8. Against the shadow-fact with which I strove.

  9. For when a cruel power forced me to face

  10. The truth which poisoned our illicit wine,

  11. That even I was faithless to my race

  12. Bleeding beneath the iron hand of thine,

  13. Our union seemed a monstrous thing and base!

  14. I was an outcast from thy world and mine.

  15. II

  16. Adventure-seasoned and storm-buffeted,

  17. I shun all signs of anchorage, because

  18. The zest of life exceeds the bound of laws.

  19. New gales of tropic fury round my head

  20. Break lashing me through hours of soulful dread;

  21. But when the terror thins and, spent, withdraws,

  22. Leaving me wondering awhile, I pause—

  23. But soon again the risky ways I tread!

  24. No rigid road for me, no peace, no rest,

  25. While molten elements run through my blood;

  26. And beauty-burning bodies manifest

  27. Their warm, heart-melting motions to be wooed;

  28. And passion boldly rising in my breast,

  29. Like rivers of the Spring, lets loose its flood.


Harlem Shadows (1922)

Additional Poems by Claude McKay

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