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Poem by Claude McKay


When Dawn Comes to the City


The tired cars go grumbling by, 
The moaning, groaning cars, 
And the old milk carts go rumbling by 
Under the same dull stars. 
Out of the tenements, cold as stone, 
Dark figures start for work; 
I watch them sadly shuffle on, 
ТTis dawn, dawn in New York. 

But I would be on the island of the sea, 
In the heart of the island of the sea, 
Where the cocks are crowing, crowing, crowing, 
And the hens are cackling in the rose-apple tree, 
Where the old draft-horse is neighing, neighing, neighing, 
Out on the brown dew-silvered lawn, 
And the tethered cow is lowing, lowing, lowing, 
And dear old Ned is braying, braying, braying, 
And the shaggy Nannie goat is calling, calling, calling 
From her little trampled corner of the long wide lea 
That stretches to the waters of the hill-stream falling 
Sheer upon the flat rocks joyously! 
There, oh, there! on the island of the sea, 
There would I be at dawn. 

The tired cars go grumbling by, 
The crazy, lazy cars, 
And the same milk carts go rumbling by 
Under the dying stars. 
A lonely newsboy hurries by, 
Humming a recent ditty; 
Red streaks strike through the gray of the sky, 
The dawn comes to the city. 

But I would be on the island of the sea, 
In the heart of the island of the sea, 
Where the cocks are crowing, crowing, crowing, 
And the hens are cackling in the rose-apple tree, 
Where the old draft-horse is neighing, neighing, neighing 
Out on the brown dew-silvered lawn, 
And the tethered cow is lowing, lowing, lowing, 
And dear old Ned is braying, braying, braying, 
And the shaggy Nannie goat is calling, calling, calling, 
From her little trampled corner of the long wide lea 
That stretches to the waters of the hill-stream falling 
Sheer upon the flat rocks joyously! 
There, oh, there! on the island of the sea, 
There I would be at dawn.



Claude McKay


Claude McKay's other poems:
  1. Through Agony
  2. Memorial
  3. Thirst
  4. One Year After
  5. Enslaved


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