by: Claude McKay (1890-1948)
- HEAR the
halting footsteps of a lass
- In Negro Harlem when the night lets fall
- Its veil. I see the shapes of girls who pass
- Eager to heed desire's insistent call:
- Ah, little dark girls, who in slippered feet
- Go prowling through the night from street to street.
- Through the long night until the silver break
- Of day the little gray feet know no rest,
- Through the lone night until the last snow-flake
- Has dropped from heaven upon the earth's white breast,
- The dusky, half-clad girls of tired feet
- Are trudging, thinly shod, from street to street.
- Ah, stern harsh world, that in the wretched way
- Of poverty, dishonor and disgrace,
- Has pushed the timid little feet of clay.
- The sacred brown feet of my fallen race!
- Ah, heart of me, the weary, weary feet
- In Harlem wandering from street to street.
POEMS BY CLAUDE MCKAY
"Harlem Shadows" is reprinted
from Harlem Shadows. Claude McKay. New York: Harcourt,
Brace and Company, 1922.