a song in the front yard

By Gwendolyn Brooks 1917–2000 Gwendolyn Brooks
I’ve stayed in the front yard all my life.
I want a peek at the back
Where it’s rough and untended and hungry weed grows.   
A girl gets sick of a rose.

I want to go in the back yard now   
And maybe down the alley,
To where the charity children play.   
I want a good time today.

They do some wonderful things.
They have some wonderful fun.
My mother sneers, but I say it’s fine
How they don’t have to go in at quarter to nine.   
My mother, she tells me that Johnnie Mae   
Will grow up to be a bad woman.
That George’ll be taken to Jail soon or late
(On account of last winter he sold our back gate).

But I say it’s fine. Honest, I do.
And I’d like to be a bad woman, too,
And wear the brave stockings of night-black lace   
And strut down the streets with paint on my face.

Gwendolyn Brooks, “a song in the front yard” from Selected Poems. Copyright © 1963 by Gwendolyn Brooks. Reprinted with the permission of the Estate of Gwendolyn Brooks.

Source: Selected Poems (1963)

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Poet Gwendolyn Brooks 1917–2000

Subjects Home Life, Youth, Living, Relationships

Poetic Terms Persona

 Gwendolyn  Brooks

Biography

Gwendolyn Brooks was a highly regarded, much-honored poet, with the distinction of being the first black author to win the Pulitzer Prize. She also was poetry consultant to the Library of Congress—the first black woman to hold that position—and poet laureate of the State of Illinois. Many of Brooks's works display a political consciousness, especially those from the 1960s and later, with several of her poems reflecting the civil . . .

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SUBJECT Home Life, Youth, Living, Relationships

Poetic Terms Persona

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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