Poem: Claude McKay “If We Must Die” (1919)

Claude McKay (1889-1948)

 

If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursed lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen we must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!

This poem was written in the context of post-World War 1 riots, which were primarily white assaults on Black neighborhoods and towns all of the US.

About these ads

1 Comment

Filed under "Blackness", History, Human Rights, Jamaica, North America, Race, Social Justice, The United States of America

One response to “Poem: Claude McKay “If We Must Die” (1919)

  1. Patti

    This poem is so wonderful to me. Used it in a speech class over 30 years ago, and it still has such resononance and strength. Thank you for posting it. It is important to continue Mr. McKays legacy.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s