Sorrow Home

By Margaret Walker 1915–1998 Margaret Walker
My roots are deep in southern life; deeper than John Brown or Nat Turner or Robert Lee. I was sired and weaned in a tropic world. The palm tree and banana leaf, mango and coconut, breadfruit and rubber trees know me.

Warm skies and gulf blue streams are in my blood. I belong with the smell of fresh pine, with the trail of coon, and the spring growth of wild onion.

I am no hothouse bulb to be reared in steam-heated flats with the music of El and subway in my ears, walled in by steel and wood and brick far from the sky.

I want the cotton fields, tabacco and the cane. I want to walk along with sacks of seed to drop in fallow ground. Restless music is in my heart and I am eager to be gone.

O Southland, sorrow home, melody beating in my bone and blood! How long will the Klan of hate, the hounds and the chain gangs keep me from my own?

Margaret Walker, “Sorrow Home” from This is My Century: New and Collected Poems. Copyright © 1989 by Margaret Walker.  Reprinted by permission of  University of Georgia Press.

Source: This is My Century: New and Collected Poems (University of Georgia Press, 1989)

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Poet Margaret Walker 1915–1998

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Activities, Jobs & Working, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Race & Ethnicity

 Margaret  Walker

Biography

When For My People by Margaret Walker won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award in 1942, "she became one of the youngest Black writers ever to have published a volume of poetry in this century," as well as "the first Black woman in American literary history to be so honored in a prestigious national competition," noted Richard K. Barksdale in Black American Poets between Worlds, 1940-1960. Walker's first novel, Jubilee, is . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Family & Ancestors, Activities, Jobs & Working, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Race & Ethnicity

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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