For Malcolm X

By Margaret Walker 1915–1998 Margaret Walker
All you violated ones with gentle hearts;
You violent dreamers whose cries shout heartbreak;
Whose voices echo clamors of our cool capers,
And whose black faces have hollowed pits for eyes.
All you gambling sons and hooked children and bowery bums
Hating white devils and black bourgeoisie,
Thumbing your noses at your burning red suns,
Gather round this coffin and mourn your dying swan.

Snow-white moslem head-dress around a dead black face!
Beautiful were your sand-papering words against our skins!
Our blood and water pour from your flowing wounds.
You have cut open our breasts and dug scalpels in our brains.
When and Where will another come to take your holy place?
Old man mumbling in his dotage, crying child, unborn?

Margaret Walker, “For Malcolm X” 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 Living, Death, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Heroes & Patriotism, Race & Ethnicity

Poetic Terms Elegy, Sonnet

 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 Living, Death, Social Commentaries, History & Politics, Heroes & Patriotism, Race & Ethnicity

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Elegy, Sonnet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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