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Claude McKay

If a man is not faithful to his own individuality, he cannot be loyal to anything.

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Idealism is like a castle in the air if it is not based on a solid foundation of social and political realism.

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Nations, like plants and human beings, grow. And if the development is thwarted they are dwarfed and overshadowed.

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Upon the clothes behind the tenement, That hang like ghosts suspended from the lines, Linking each flat, but to each indifferent, Incongruous and strange the moonlight shines.

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The Wild Goat

O you would clothe me in silken frocks
And house me from the cold,
And bind with bright bands my glossy locks,
And buy me chains of gold;

And give me--meekly to do my will--
The hapless sons of men:--
But the wild goat bounding on the barren hill
Droops in the grassy pen.

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Flirtation

UPON thy purple mat thy body bare
Is fine and limber like a tender tree.
The motion of thy supple form is rare,
Like a lithe panther lolling languidly,
Toying and turning slowly in her lair.
Oh, I would never ask for more of thee,
Thou art so clean in passion and so fair.
Enough! if thou wilt ask no more of me!

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Polarity

Nay, why reproach each other, be unkind,
For there's no plane on which we two may meet?
Let's both forgive, forget, for both were blind,
And life is of a day, and time is fleet.

And I am fire, swift to flame and burn,
Melting with elements high overhead,
While you are water in an earthly urn,
All pure, but heavy, and of hue like lead.

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The City's Love

For one brief golden moment rare like wine,
The gracious city swept across the line;
Oblivious of the color of my skin,
Forgetting that I was an alien guest,
She bent to me, my hostile heart to win,
Caught me in passion to her pillowy breast;
The great, proud city, seized with a strange love,
Bowed down for one flame hour my pride to prove.

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The Barrier

I must not gaze at them although
Your eyes are dawning day;
I must not watch you as you go
Your sun-illumined way;

I hear but I must never heed
The fascinating note,
Which, fluting like a river reed,
Comes from your trembing throat;

I must not see upon your face
Love's softly glowing spark;
For there's the barrier of race,
You're fair and I am dark.

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December, 1919

Last night I heard your voice, mother,
The words you sang to me
When I, a little barefoot boy,
Knelt down against your knee.

And tears gushed from my heart, mother,
And passed beyond its wall,
But though the fountain reached my throat
The drops refused to fall.

'Tis ten years since you died, mother,
Just ten dark years of pain,
And oh, I only wish that I
Could weep just once again.

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