Sterling A. Brown


Sterling Allen Brown was born in Washington, D.C., on May 1, 1901. He was educated at Dunbar High School and received a bachelor’s degree from Williams College and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. In 1923, he earned a master’s degree from Harvard University and was employed as a teacher at the Virginia Seminary and College in Lynchburg until 1926. Three years later, Brown began teaching at Howard University and, in 1932, his first poetry collection, Southern Road (Harcourt, Brace), was published. Brown then published two critical studies, The Negro in American Fiction and Negro Poetry and Drama, both published by Associates in Negro Folk Education in 1937. He next edited The Negro Caravan (The Citadel Press, 1941), an anthology covering nearly two hundred years of African American poetry. Brown’s poetry was influenced by jazz, the blues, work songs and spirituals. Brown is known for his frank, unsentimental portraits of Black people and their experiences, as well as the incorporation of African American folklore and contemporary idiom into his verse. Brown died on January 13, 1989, in Takoma Park, Maryland. Source


I said, in drunken pride of youth and you

That mischief-making Time would never dare

Play his ill-humored tricks upon us two,

Strange and defiant lovers that we were.

I said that even Death, Highwayman Death,

Could never master lovers such as we,

That even when his clutch had throttled breath,

My hymns would float in praise, undauntedly.


I did not think such words were bravado.

Oh, I think honestly we knew no fear,

We loved each other so.

And thus, with you believing me, I made

My prophecies, rebellious, unafraid . . . .

And that was foolish, wasn’t it, my dear?





Literary Movements:

Harlem Renaissance

Anthology Years:



Childhood & Coming of Age

Love & Relationships

Poetic Form

Literary Devices:


a literary device that is used in narratives to omit some parts of a sentence or event, which gives the reader a chance to fill the gaps while acting or reading it out.


the attribution of human qualities to a non-human thing

Rhetorical Question

a question asked for effect, not necessarily to be answered


A poem with fourteen lines that traditionally uses a fixed rhyme scheme and meter.