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On Broadway
Claude McKay


About me young and careless feet
Linger along the garish street;
   Above, a hundred shouting signs
Shed down their bright fantastic glow
   Upon the merry crowd and lines
Of moving carriages below.
Oh wonderful is Broadway—only
My heart, my heart is lonely.

Desire naked, linked with Passion,
Goes strutting by in brazen fashion;
   From playhouse, cabaret and inn
The rainbow lights of Broadway blaze
   All gay without, all glad within;
As in a dream I stand and gaze
At Broadway, shining Broadway—only
My heart, my heart is lonely.

This poem is in the public domain.


Festus Claudius "Claude" McKay (1889 - 1948) was born in Jamaica to a farming family. Educated primarily by his brother, a schoolteacher, he began writing poetry at the age of 10 and published his first collection at age 20. With the money from that book, Claude moved to the U.S. to attend college. He traveled in Europe and the Soviet Union in his thirties, then eventually settled in Harlem, New York, where he became a key figure of the Harlem Renaissance movement. Posthumously named Jamaica’s national poet, Claude has also been recognized as one of the 100 Greatest African Americans.


Post New Comment:
Imagine making enough money from publication of a first book to move to another country! 1909, that was then, this is now. Good poem.
Posted 04/29/2018 01:21 PM
Thank you Jayne for doing this during April. It's been a wonderful assortment and this fine poet is a good example. The contrast between Broadway and this lonely man is portrayed well.
Posted 04/28/2018 08:21 PM
Broadway lights, crowd, shouting signs, movement -- all greatly contrast the lonely heart.
Posted 04/28/2018 01:19 PM
Yes, a tightly-crafted poem to remind us of the proximity of Harlem and Broadway; their island connectedness. Thanks, Jayne.
Posted 04/28/2018 09:34 AM
michael escoubas:
Thank you Jayne for posting this superbly crafted poem as well as for the biographical overview of a fine poet who contributed much to the Harlem Renaissance -- so appropriate that this exquisite life should stand on the stage alongside other great Americans.
Posted 04/28/2018 08:38 AM

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