Wednesday, March 14, 2018
Wednesday Words: Black Nature (poetry)
It's the second Wednesday of the month, and that means it's time for Wednesday Words (this is probably the only day I usually remember to do on time).
As part of my research for my new project, I'm trying to immerse myself in black poetry, African culture, and African mythologies. This past week I began reading Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry, edited by Camille T. Dungy.
At first, I thought, "I hate reading poetry about nature; I'm going to take this back to the library," but as I started reading a little more, I found poems I love and poems that remind me how much I love nature. Though I love the city, I'd give anything to live out in the countryside with a telescope and flowery fields all around me. Shoot, that's a poem I can start right there.
Also, living in Delaware, where nature poetry is, seemingly, all people do here, that's probably why I claimed I don't like it, but as the forward of this book says, there are also subconscious stigmas among black people about nature. However, with 400 years of nature poetry in my hand, it's clear how many other black Americans have embraced it.
Instead of sharing a page, I'm going to share this poem by George Marion McClellan called "A September Night."
Through marsh and lowlands stretching to the gulf.
Begirt with cotton fields Anguilla sits
Half bird-like dreaming on her summer nest
Amid her spreading figs, and roses still
In bloom with all their spring and summer hues.
Pomegranates hang with dapple cheeks full ripe,
And over all the town a dreamy haze
Drops down. The great plantations stretching far
Away are plains of cotton downy white.
O, glorious is this night of joyous sounds
Too full for sleep. Aromas wild and sweet,
From muscadine, late blooming jessamine,
And roses, all the heavy air suffuse.
Faint bellows from the alligators come
From swamps afar, where sluggish lagoons give
To them a peaceful home. The katydids
Make ceaseless cries. Ten thousand insects' wings
Stir in the moonlight haze and joyous shouts
Of Negro song and mirth awake hard by
The cabin dance. O, glorious is this night.
The summer sweetness fills my heart with songs
I cannot sing, with loves I cannot speak.
What are you reading this week?