Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A poem for Wednesday

Love rejected
hurts so much more
than Love rejecting;
they act like they don't love their country

what it is
is they found out
their country don't love them.
-Lucille Clifton

:Hat tip to Ta-Nehisi Coates for posting this on his blog. I understand his reaction, "this stopped me cold." It is a powerful piece and works on so many levels at the same time. So many things unsaid that the reader must bring to it: this effect in the best poetry allows the writer and reader to unite in a way prose seldom does.


Vincent said...

I had to go to his website to understand the poem. But thanks for this. It is powerful indeed. Interesting discussion of black love over there too, especially to me, a white man married to a Black Jamaican.

PatricktheRogue said...

Yes, Vincent, you point out something I should have considered and possibly explained - the meaning is clear to an American audience where blacks are often accused of being less patriotic than others.

Which of course is and isn't true at the same time, because it's complicated, and that's what I think the poem is alluding to; the complicated relationship of a group of people to a country that abused them, enslaved them, brutalized them, but also, fought itself over them, set them free, and ultimately, after great struggle, however hesitantly and fearfully, embraced them. It is supremely complex, an epic history that captures all the flaws and the wondrous strength of humanity. Which is why the subject is so endlessly compelling.