Subway Wind

By Claude McKay 1889–1948 Claude McKay
Far down, down through the city’s great gaunt gut
      The gray train rushing bears the weary wind;
In the packed cars the fans the crowd’s breath cut,
      Leaving the sick and heavy air behind.
And pale-cheeked children seek the upper door
      To give their summer jackets to the breeze;
Their laugh is swallowed in the deafening roar
      Of captive wind that moans for fields and seas;
Seas cooling warm where native schooners drift
      Through sleepy waters, while gulls wheel and sweep,
Waiting for windy waves the keels to lift
      Lightly among the islands of the deep;
Islands of lofy palm trees blooming white
      That led their perfume to the tropic sea,
Where fields lie idle in the dew-drenched night,
      And the Trades float above them fresh and free.

Claude McKay, “Subway Wind” from Claude McKay: Complete Poems. Published by University of Illinois Press. Copyright © 2004 by Claude McKay. Courtesy of the Literary Representative for the Works of Claude McKay, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.

Source: Claude McKay: Complete Poems (University of Illinois Press, 2004)

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Poet Claude McKay 1889–1948

SCHOOL / PERIOD Harlem Renaissance

Subjects Nature, Summer, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

 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 Nature, Summer, Seas, Rivers, & Streams, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

SCHOOL / PERIOD Harlem Renaissance

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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