Black love poetry includes many famous African-American poets

In my next selection of various famous black love poetry, I have poetry from Langston Hughes, Countée Cullen, Dudley Randall and Larry Ukali Johnson-Redd.

Poet, anthologist, novelist, translator, children's writer, and playwright, Countée Cullen (1903-1946) is probably the most accomplished of all my famous black love poetry subjects. After a brilliant and distinguished academic career, capped with a masters degree from Harvard in 1926, he atained universal acclaim with his first collection of poetryColor and throughout the twenties, he won more major literary prizes than any other black writer.

By 1927, Cullen was generally recognized by critics and the public as the leading literary figure of the Harlem Renaissance. His considerable academic training afforded the necessary technique to write with genuine skill and compelling power. He produced verse-ballads, sonnets and quatrains, in the manner of Keats and the British Romantics which he tinged with racial issues.

Cullen also taught and inspired another great black American man of letters, James Baldwin in New York in the 1930's. Here is an example of his black love poetry:

The Loss of Love

All through an empty place I go,

find her not in any room;

The candles and the lamps I light

Go down before a wind of gloom.

lies the dust about,

A fit, sad place to write her name

Or draw her face the way she looked

That legendary night she came.

The old house crumbles bit by bit;

Each day I hear the ominous thud

That says another rent is there

For winds to pierce and storms to flood.

My orchards groan and sag with fruit;

Where, Indian-wise, the bees go round;

I let it rot upon the bough;

I eat what falls upon the ground.

heavy cows go laboring

In agony with clotted teats;

My hands are slack; my blood is cold;

I marvel that my heart still beats.

I have no will to weep or sing,

No least desire to pray or curse;

The loss of love is a terrible thing;

They lie who say that death is worse.

My next subject in famous black love poetry is Langston Hughes (1902-1967). He was a prolific writer. In the forty-odd years between his first book in 1926 and his death in 1967, he devoted his life to writing and lecturing. He wrote sixteen books of poems, two novels, three collections of short stories, four volumes of "editorial" and "documentary" fiction, twenty plays, children's poetry, musicals and operas, three autobiographies, a dozen radio and television scripts and dozens of magazine articles. In addition, he edited seven anthologies.

Hughes was the guiding light of the Harlem Renaissance. This is his black love poetry:

"Juke Box Love Song"

I could take the Harlem night

and wrap around you,

Take the neon lights and make a crown,

Take the Lenox Avenue busses,

Taxis, subways,

And for your love song tone their rumble down.

Take harlem's heartbeat,

Make a drumbeat,

Put it on a record, let it whirl,

And while we listen to it play,

Dance with you till day--

Dance with you, my sweet brown Harlem girl.

To conclude this page here are two particularly outstanding examples of black love poetry from Dudley Randall and Larry Ukali Johnson-Redd:

The Profile on the Pillow

by Dudley Randall

After our fierce loving

in the brief time we found to be together,

you lay in the half light

exhausted, rich,

with your face turned sideways on the pillow

and I traced the exquisite

line of your profile, dark against the white,

delicate and lovely as a child's.


you will cease to love me.

or we may be consumed in the holocaust,

but I keep, against the ice and the fire,

the memory of your profile on the pillow.

Waiting for You

By Larry Ukali Johnson-Redd,

I'm a do

What I want

To do and that is

wait on you

You got a

Lot to go through

You are

So far away too

And as soon

As you come in

You'll make my life

An earthly heaven

I am going to

Wait on you

I feel what

You're going through

I want to

See you and hold you too

So I'm waiting

For you.

Famous Black Love Poetry 4

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