Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, NEGROES, by MAXWELL BODENHEIM



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NEGROES, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: The loose eyes of an old man
Last Line: Softened in a long-forgotten cradle.
Subject(s): African Americans; Negroes; American Blacks


The loose eyes of an old man
Shone aloof upon his boyish face;
And a sluggish innocence
Hugged his dull, brown skin.
He sang a hymn borrowed from his elders
And his voice resembled
A quavering, feverish laugh
Softened in a swaying cradle.
His life had found a refuge in his voice,
And the rest of him was under-nourished flesh
Ignorant of life and death.
Centuries of oppression
Became a mute, infinitely compassionate
Background for this child's refrain.
His mother shuffled out upon the porch.
Slowly her dark brown face resolved
Into the hushed and sulky look
Of one who stands within a dim-walled trap.
Lazily uncertain,
She raised the boy into her arms.
Then her voice swung in the air
Like a quavering, feverish laugh
Softened in a long-forgotten cradle.





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