Claude McKay

cantfindit

Claude McKay, born Festus Claudius McKay in Sunny Ville, Jamaica in 1889, was a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance, a prominent literary movement of the 1920s. His work ranged from vernacular verse celebrating peasant life in Jamaica to poems that protested racial and economic inequities. His philosophically ambitious fiction, including tales of Black life in both Jamaica and America, addresses instinctual/intellectual duality, which McKay found central to the Black individual’s efforts to cope in a racist society. He is the author of The Passion of Claude McKay: Selected Poetry and Prose (1973), The Dialectic Poetry of Claude McKay (1972), Selected Poems (1953), Harlem Shadows (1922), Constab Ballads (1912), and Songs of Jamaica (1912), among many other books of poetry and prose. McKay has been recognized for his intense commitment to expressing the challenges faced by Black Americans and admired for devoting his art and life to social protest, and his audience continues to expand. Source 

I Know My Soul

I plucked my soul out of its secret place,

And held it to the mirror of my eye,

To see it like a star against the sky,

A twitching body quivering in space,

A spark of passion shining on my face.

And I explored it to determine why

This awful key to my infinity

Conspires to rob me of sweet joy and grace.

And if the sign may not be fully read,

If I can comprehend but not control,

I need not gloom my days with futile dread,

Because I see a part and not the whole.

Contemplating the strange, I’m comforted

By this narcotic thought: I know my soul.

Published:

1922

Length:

Shorty

Literary Movements:

Harlem Renaissance

Anthology Years:

2022

Themes:

Identity

Literary Devices:

Metaphor

a comparison between two unrelated things through a shared characteristic

Personification

the attribution of human qualities to a non-human thing

Simile

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