One of my favorite Claude McKay sonnets…
Although she feeds me bread of bitterness,
And sinks into my throat her tiger’s tooth,
Stealing my breath of life, I will confess
I love this cultured hell that tests my youth!
Her vigor flows like tides into my blood,
Giving me strength erect against her hate.
Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood.
Yet as a rebel fronts a king in state,
I stand within her walls with not a shred
Of terror, malice, not a word of jeer.
Darkly I gaze into the days ahead,
And see her might and granite wonders there,
Beneath the touch of Time’s unerring hand,
Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand.
I love this John Masefield poem! I first heard it read in Mrs. Kennedy’s fifth grade class, then studied it in the ninth grade (the third form).
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song, and the white sail’s shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea’s face and the grey dawn breaking.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume and the sea-gulls crying.
I must go down to the seas again to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull;’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yawn from a laughing fellow rover,
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.