National Poetry Month: Gwendolyn Brooks

Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000) wrote poetry for more than 70 years, and has the distinction of being the first black author to win the Pulitzer Prize (in 1950 for Annie Allen: Poems). She also received numerous other honors and recognitions, including a nomination for the National Book Award, the National Medal for the Arts, serving as poet laureate of Illinois and poet laureate of the United States, the Frost Medal, the Shelley Memorial Award, an award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and more than 75 honorary degrees from colleges and universities.

This poem is from Selected Poems (2006) but was first published in The Bean Eaters (1960).

A Lonely Love

Let it be alleys. Let it be a hall
Whose janitor javelins epithet and thought
To cheapen hyacinth darkness that we sought
And played we found, rot, make the petals fall.
Let it be stairways, and a splintery box
Where you have thrown me, scraped me with your kiss,
Have honed me, have released me after this
Cavern kindness, smiled away our shocks.
That is the birthright of our lonely love
In swaddling clothes. Not like that Other one.
Not lit by any fondling star above.
Not found by any wise man, either. Run.
People are coming. They must not catch us here
Definitionless in this strict atmosphere.


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