The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review
littlereview

Poem for Sunday


Southern Road
By Sterling Brown


Swing dat hammer -- hunh --
Steady, bo';
Swing dat hammer -- hunh --
Steady, bo';
Ain't no rush, bebby,
Long ways to go.

Burner tore his -- hunh --
Black heart away;
Burner tore his -- hunh --
Black heart away;
Got me life, bebby,
An' a day.

Gal's on Fifth Street -- hunh --
Son done gone;
Gal's on Fifth Street -- hunh --
Son done gone;
Wife's in de ward, bebby,
Babe's not bo'n.

My ole man died -- hunh --
Cussin' me;
My old man died -- hunh --
Cussin' me;
Ole lady rocks, bebby,
Huh misery.

Doubleshackled -- hunh --
Guard behin';
Doubleshackled -- hunh --
Guard behin';
Ball an' chain, bebby,
On my min'.

White man tells me -- hunh --
Damn yo' soul;
White man tells me -- hunh --
Damn yo' soul;
Got no need, bebby,
To be tole.

Chain gain nevah -- hunh --
Let me go;
Chain gain nevah -- hunh --
Let me go;
Po' los' boy, bebby,
Evahmo'. . . .

--------

From today's Poet's Choice by Edward Hirsch in The Washington Post Book World:

Sterling Brown's collection Southern Road (1932) is one of the key books of American poetry from the early 1930s. Brown was not, as he has sometimes been treated, a minor satellite of the Harlem Renaissance, but a poet of comparable stature to Claude McKay and Countee Cullen. He was engaged in a different but parallel poetic revolution. As a young writer influenced by concept of the New Negro, energized by the sharp, articulate writings of Alain Locke and W.E.B. Du Bois, Brown turned his verbal gifts not to the urban life of his contemporaries but to exploring the social nature of the Southern black experience in a sensitive folk idiom. As Langston Hughes experimented with jazz rhythms to render Harlem nightlife, so Brown turned to folk forms like the blues, spirituals and work songs to create an accurate, unsentimental and dignified portrait of Southern black life in the 20th century. In the deceptively simple forms of his chosen folk idiom, Sterling Brown's poems successfully brought an unknown African-American world into the realm of recorded history.


mandc100: "Churning", for the sick-or-injured challenge. Probably because I ate too much last night.

Today my younger son has a birthday party to go to at a bowling alley and then wants to get his very, very long hair cut very, very short so he can spike it with red hair gel. I suspect that his hair is too fine to spike no matter how much goop is put into it but if he wants to try, fine. Right now it's past his shoulders, which doesn't bother me but bothers my parents greatly, so I am going to be most amused with their reactions when he shows up with reddish pseudo-spiked hair.

Tonight my good friend is coming from Illinois for the Oscars -- whoo! I'm rooting for ROTK for Best Picture, but if M&C wins every technical award for which it's nominated, I will be very happy, and I truly don't care which Peter wins for Best Director; that award tends to be given for lifetime achievement as much as for any given film, and Weir is long overdue, and wonderful as I thought FOTR was, I'm just not as sure that Jackson will ever repeat that level of work -- go ahead and unFriend me if you wish, but I don't think TTT or ROTK did. So since Clint already has an Oscar and I won't root for Sofia over people who've proven themselves repeatedly, no matter how good her movie is, I'll cheer for Jackson when he wins and secretly pull for Weir.
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