Romance

By Claude McKay 1889–1948 Claude McKay
To clasp you now and feel your head close-pressed,
Scented and warm against my beating breast;

To whisper soft and quivering your name,
And drink the passion burning in your frame;

To lie at full length, taut, with cheek to cheek,
And tease your mouth with kisses till you speak

Love words, mad words, dream words, sweet senseless words,
Melodious like notes of mating birds;

To hear you ask if I shall love always,
And myself answer: Till the end of days;

To feel your easeful sigh of happiness
When on your trembling lips I murmur: Yes;

It is so sweet. We know it is not true.
What matters it? The night must shed her dew.

We know it is not true, but it is sweet—
The poem with this music is complete.

Claude McKay, "Romance" from Harlem Shadows: The Poems of Claude McKay (New York: Harcourt, 1922). Courtesy of the Literary Representative for the Works of Claude McKay, Schombourg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tildeen Foundations.

Source: Harlem Shadows: The Poems of Claude McKay (Harcourt Inc., 1922)

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Poet Claude McKay 1889–1948

SCHOOL / PERIOD Harlem Renaissance

Subjects Relationships, Love, Romantic Love, Desire, Infatuation & Crushes, Realistic & Complicated

Holidays Valentine's Day

Poetic Terms Couplet

 Claude  McKay

Biography

Festus Claudius McKay, better known as Claude McKay, was a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance, a prominent literary movement of the 1920s. His work ranged from vernacular verse celebrating peasant life in Jamaica to fairly militant poems challenging white authority in America, and from generally straightforward tales of black life in both Jamaica and America to more philosophically ambitious fiction addressing . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Love, Romantic Love, Desire, Infatuation & Crushes, Realistic & Complicated

SCHOOL / PERIOD Harlem Renaissance

Poetic Terms Couplet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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