African American Poetry Those Winter Sundays By Robert Hayden

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African  American  Poetry  

Those  Winter  Sundays  

 

By  Robert  Hayden    

 

Sundays  too  my  father  got  up  early     and  put  his  clothes  on  in  the  blueblack  cold,     then  with  cracked  hands  that  ached     from  labor  in  the  weekday  weather  made     banked  fires  blaze.  No  one  ever  thanked  him.    

 

I’d  wake  and  hear  the  cold  splintering,  breaking.    

When  the  rooms  were  warm,  he’d  call,     and  slowly  I  would  rise  and  dress,    

  fearing  the  chronic  angers  of  that  house,    

Speaking  indifferently  to  him,     who  had  driven  out  the  cold     and  polished  my  good  shoes  as  well.    

What  did  I  know,  what  did  I  know     of  love’s  austere  and  lonely  offices?  

Robert  Hayden,  “Those  Winter  Sundays”  from  

Collected  Poems  of  Robert  Hayden

,   edited  by  Frederick  Glaysher.  Copyright  ©1966  by  Robert  Hayden.  Reprinted  with  

  the  permission  of  Liveright  Publishing  Corporation.  

Source:  

Collected  Poems  of  Robert  Hayden

 (Liveright  Publishing  Corporation,  1985)    

“Those  Winter  Sundays”  Audio  Link:     http://www.poetryfoundation.org/learning/guide/177415#poem  

 

Mother  to  Son  

 

By  Langston  Hughes    

Well,  son,  I’ll  tell  you:    

Life  for  me  ain’t  been  no  crystal  stair.    

It’s  had  tacks  in  it,    

And  splinters,    

And  boards  torn  up,    

And  places  with  no  carpet  on  the  floor—    

Bare.    

But  all  the  time    

I’se  been  a-­‐climbin’  on,    

And  reachin’  landin’s,    

And  turnin’  corners,    

And  sometimes  goin’  in  the  dark    

Where  there  ain’t  been  no  light.    

So  boy,  don’t  you  turn  back.    

Don’t  you  set  down  on  the  steps    

’Cause  you  finds  it’s  kinder  hard.    

Don’t  you  fall  now—    

For  I’se  still  goin’,  honey,    

I’se  still  climbin’,    

 

And  life  for  me  ain’t  been  no  crystal  stair.  

 

Langston  Hughes,  “Mother  to  Son”  from  

Collected  Poems.

 Copyright  ©  1994  by  The  

Estate  of  Langston  Hughes.  Reprinted  with  the  permission  of  Harold  Ober  

Associates  Incorporated.  

Source:  

The  Collected  Poems  of  Langston  Hughes

 (Vintage  Books,  1994)  

 

Link:    http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/177021  

Listen  Children  

By  Lucille  Clifton  

 

Listen  children     keep  this  in  the  place     you  have  for  keeping     always,    

  keep  it  all  ways    

 

We  have  never  hated  black    

Listen     we  have  been  ashamed     hopeless  tired  mad     but  always     all  ways     we  loved  us    

 

We  have  always  loved  each  other    

  children  all  ways    

 

 

 

 

Pass  it  on    

 

 

Fifth  Grade  Autobiography  

By  Rita  Dove  

I  was  four  in  this  photograph  fishing  with  my  grandparents  at  a  lake  in  Michigan.  

My  brother  squats  in  poison  ivy.  

His  Davy  Crockett  cap  sits  squared  on  his  head  so  the  raccoon  tail  flounces  down  the   back  of  his  sailor  suit.  

My  grandfather  sits  to  the  far  right  in  a  folding  chair,   and  I  know  his  left  hand  is  on  the  tobacco  in  his  pants  pocket  because  I  used  to  wrap   it  for  him  every  Christmas.    

Grandmother's  hip  bulge  from  the  brush,  she's  leaning  into  the  ice  chest,   sun  through  the  trees  printing  her  dress  with  soft  luminous  paws.  

I  am  staring  jealously  at  my  brother;  the  day  before  he  rode  his  first  horse,  alone.  

I  was  strapped  in  a  basket  behind  my  grandfather.  He  smelled  of  lemons,  He's  died-­‐ but  I  remember  his  hands....  

 

Incident  

By  Countee  Cullen  

Once  riding  in  old  Baltimore,  

Heart-­‐filled,  head-­‐filled  with  glee;  

I  saw  a  Baltimorean  

Keep  looking  straight  at  me.  

 

Now  I  was  eight  and  very  small,  

And  he  was  no  whit  bigger,  

And  so  I  smiled,  but  he  poked  out  

His  tongue,  and  called  me,  "****."  

 

I  saw  the  whole  of  Baltimore  

From  May  until  December;  

Of  all  the  things  that  happened  there  

That's  all  that  I  remember.  

 

(Born  in  1903  in  New  York  City,  Countee  Cullen  was  raised  in  a  Methodist   parsonage.)  

 

 

 

 

Women  

By  Alice  Walker  

They  were  women  then  

My  mama’s  generation  

Husky  of  voice—stout  of  

Step  

With  fists  as  well  as  

Hands  

How  they  battered  down  

Doors  

And  ironed  

Starched  white  

Shirts  

How  they  led  

Armies  

Headragged  generals  

Across  mined  

Fields  

Booby-­‐trapped  

Ditches  

To  discover  books  

Desks  

A  place  for  us  

How  they  knew  what   we  

Must

 know  

Without  knowing  a  page  

Of  it  

Themselves.  

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