Countee Cullen


Countee Cullen was born Countee LeRoy Porter on May 30, 1903, likely in Louisville, Kentucky. He attended De Witt Clinton High School in New York City and began writing poetry at the age of fourteen. When he was fifteen, he was unofficially adopted by F. A. Cullen, the minister of a Methodist church in Harlem. Cullen entered New York University after high school. Around the same time, his poems were published in The Crisis, under the leadership of W. E. B. Du Bois, and Opportunity, a magazine of the National Urban League. He was soon after published in Harper's, the Century Magazine, and Poetry. He won several awards for his poem, "Ballad of the Brown Girl," and graduated from New York University in 1925. That same year, he published his first volume of verse, Color (Harper & Bros., 1925), and was admitted to Harvard University, where he completed an MA in English. Cullen went on to publish several more poetry collections, including On These I Stand: An Anthology of the Best Poems of Countee Cullen (Harper & Bros., 1947), The Black Christ and Other Poems (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1929), and Copper Sun (Harper & Bros., 1927). An imaginative lyric poet, he wrote in the tradition of Keats and Shelley and was resistant to the new poetic techniques of the Modernists; his work demonstrates the range of subjects and aesthetic interests that poets of the Harlem Renaissance addressed. Cullen taught in New York City public schools for twelve years beginning in 1934. He died on January 9, 1946. Source

Fruit Of The Flower

My father is a quiet man

With sober, steady ways;

For simile, a folded fan;

His nights are like his days.

My mother's life is puritan,

No hint of cavalier,

A pool so calm you're sure it can

Have little depth to fear.


And yet my father's eyes can boast

How full his life has been;

There haunts them yet the languid ghost

Of some still sacred sin.


And though my mother chants of God,

And of the mystic river,

I've seen a bit of checkered sod

Set all her flesh aquiver.


Why should he deem it pure mischance

A son of his is fain

To do a naked tribal dance

Each time he hears the rain?


Why should she think it devil's art

That all my songs should be

Of love and lovers, broken heart,

And wild sweet agony?


Who plants a seed begets a bud,

Extract of that same root;

Why marvel at the hectic blood

That flushes this wild fruit?





Literary Movements:

Harlem Renaissance

Anthology Years:




Literary Devices:


the repetition of the same letter or sound at the beginning of words appearing in succession

End Rhyme

when a poem has lines ending with words that sound the same


a comparison between two unrelated things through a shared characteristic


a situation that seems to contradict itself


correspondence of sound between words or the endings of words, especially when these are used at the ends of lines of poetry


a comparison between two unlike things using the words “like” or “as”