A Brown Girl Dead

By Countee Cullen 1903–1946 Countee Cullen
With two white roses on her breasts,
   White candles at head and feet,   
Dark Madonna of the grave she rests;
   Lord Death has found her sweet.

Her mother pawned her wedding ring   
   To lay her out in white;
She’d be so proud she’d dance and sing   
   To see herself tonight.

Countee Cullen, “A Brown Girl Dead” from My Soul's High Song: The Collected Writings of Countee Cullen. Copyrights held by the Amistad Research Center, Tulane University, administered by Thompson and Thompson, Brooklyn, NY.

Source: My Soul’s High Song: The Collected Writings of Countee Cullen (Anchor Books, 1991)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Countee Cullen 1903–1946

SCHOOL / PERIOD Harlem Renaissance

Subjects Death, Parenthood, Living

Poetic Terms Ballad

 Countee  Cullen

Biography

Countee Cullen was perhaps the most representative voice of the Harlem Renaissance. His life story is essentially a tale of youthful exuberance and talent of a star that flashed across the Afro-American firmament and then sank toward the horizon. When his paternal grandmother and guardian died in 1918, the fifteen-year-old Countee LeRoy Porter was taken into the home of the Reverend Frederick A. Cullen, the pastor of Salem . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Death, Parenthood, Living

SCHOOL / PERIOD Harlem Renaissance

Poetic Terms Ballad

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.