THE HARLEM DANCER
by: Claude McKay (1890-1948)
youths laughed with young prostitutes
- And watched her perfect, half-clothed body sway;
- Her voice was like the sound of blended flutes
- Blown by black players upon a picnic day.
- She sang and danced on gracefully and calm,
- The light gauze hanging loose about her form;
- To me she seemed a proudly-swaying palm
- Grown lovelier for passing through a storm.
- Upon her swarthy neck black, shiny curls
- Profusely fell; and, tossing coins in praise,
- The wine-flushed, bold-eyed boys, and even the girls,
- Devoured her with their eager, passionate gaze;
- But, looking at her falsely-smiling face
- I knew her self was not in that strange place.
POEMS BY CLAUDE MCKAY
"The Harlem Dancer" is
reprinted from Harlem Shadows. Claude McKay. New York:
Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1922.