The White House

Claude McKay

Your door is shut against my tightened face,
And I am sharp as steel with discontent;
But I possess the courage and the grace
To bear my anger proudly and unbent.
The pavement slabs burn loose beneath my feet,
And passion rends my vitals as I pass,
A chafing savage, down the decent street;
Where boldly shines your shuttered door of glass.
Oh, I must search for wisdom every hour,
Deep in my wrathful bosom sore and raw,
And find in it the superhuman power
To hold me to the letter of your law!
Oh, I must keep my heart inviolate
Against the potent poison of your hate.
Used by permission of The Archives of Claude McKay, Carl Cowl, Administrator.

Poems by This Author

America by Claude McKay
Although she feeds me bread of bitterness
December, 1919 by Claude McKay
Last night I heard your voice, mother
Harlem Shadows by Claude McKay
I hear the halting footsteps of a lass
If We Must Die by Claude McKay
If we must die--let it not be like hogs
Joy in the Woods by Claude McKay
There is joy in the woods just now
Spring in New Hampshire by Claude McKay
Too green the springing April grass
The Barrier by Claude McKay
I must not gaze at them although
The City's Love by Claude McKay
For one brief golden moment rare like wine
The Snow Fairy by Claude McKay
Throughout the afternoon I watched them there
The Tropics of New York by Claude McKay
Bananas ripe and green, and ginger root

Further Reading

Black History
A Negro Love Song
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
A Song for Many Movements
by Audre Lorde
American History
by Michael S. Harper
Believing in Iron
by Yusef Komunyakaa
Black Woman
by Georgia Douglas Johnson
Derrick Poem (The Lost World)
by Terrance Hayes
by Langston Hughes
For the Confederate Dead
by Kevin Young
Frederick Douglass
by Paul Laurence Dunbar
by Elizabeth Alexander
Harriet Tubman
by Eloise Greenfield
homage to my hips
by Lucille Clifton
I'm A Fool To Love You
by Cornelius Eady
La Vie C'est La Vie
by Jessie Redmon Fauset
Langston Blue
by Jericho Brown
Lift Every Voice and Sing
by James Weldon Johnson
by Gwendolyn Bennett
Reunion 2005
by Rita Dove
Song of the Son
by Jean Toomer
Still I Rise
by Maya Angelou
The Day I Saw Barack Obama Reading Derek Walcott's Collected Poems
by Yusef Komunyakaa
The Negro Speaks of Rivers
by Langston Hughes
The Spring Cricket Considers the Question of Negritude
by Rita Dove
We Real Cool
by Gwendolyn Brooks
We Wear the Mask
by Paul Laurence Dunbar