we are each other’s magnitude and bond

The incredible Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-200) on Paul Robeson (1989-1976), an acclaimed singer, actor and political activist whose life you should definitely take a few minutes to read about.

_Paul_Robeson,_world_famous_Negro_baritone,_leading_Moore_Shipyard_(Oakland,_CA)_workers_in_singing_the_Star_Spangled_Ba_-_NARA_-_535874.jpg
Robeson leading Moore Shipyard workers in song. Oakland, California. September 1942. 

“Paul Robeson”

That time
we all heard it,
cool and clear,
cutting across the hot grit of the day.
The major Voice.
The adult Voice
forgoing Rolling River,
forgoing tearful tale of bale and barge
and other symptoms of an old despond.
Warning, in music-words
devout and large,
that we are each other’s
harvest:
we are each other’s
business:
we are each other’s
magnitude and bond.

from Family Pictures

And if the sun comes How shall we greet him?

I can’t believe I’ve let nine years of this blog pass without posting the work of the inimitable and essential Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000), so let me amend that now with one of her great early poems.

 

brooks

“truth”

And if sun comes
How shall we greet him?
Shall we not dread him,
Shall we not fear him
After so lengthy a
Session with shade?

Though we have wept for him,
Though we have prayed
All through the night-years—
What if we wake one shimmering morning to
Hear the fierce hammering
Of his firm knuckles
Hard on the door?

Shall we not shudder?—
Shall we not flee
Into the shelter, the dear thick shelter
Of the familiar
Propitious haze?

Sweet is it, sweet is it
To sleep in the coolness
Of snug unawareness.

The dark hangs heavily
Over the eyes.