The Lynching

By Claude McKay 1889–1948 Claude McKay
His spirit is smoke ascended to high heaven.
His father, by the cruelest way of pain,
Had bidden him to his bosom once again;
The awful sin remained still unforgiven.
All night a bright and solitary star
(Perchance the one that ever guided him,
Yet gave him up at last to Fate's wild whim)
Hung pitifully o'er the swinging char.
Day dawned, and soon the mixed crowds came to view
The ghastly body swaying in the sun:
The women thronged to look, but never a one
Showed sorrow in her eyes of steely blue;
And little lads, lynchers that were to be,
Danced round the dreadful thing in fiendish glee.


Source: Harlem Shadows (Harcourt Brace and Company, 1922)

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Poet Claude McKay 1889–1948

SCHOOL / PERIOD Harlem Renaissance

Subjects Living, Death, Social Commentaries, Crime & Punishment, History & Politics, Race & Ethnicity, War & Conflict

Poetic Terms Sonnet

 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 Living, Death, Social Commentaries, Crime & Punishment, History & Politics, Race & Ethnicity, War & Conflict

SCHOOL / PERIOD Harlem Renaissance

Poetic Terms Sonnet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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