ROBERT HAYDEN 1913-1980
O masks and metamorphoses of Ahab, Native Son
The icy evil that struck his father down and ravished his mother into madness trapped him in violence of a punished self struggling to break free.
As Home Boy, as Dee-troit Red, he fled his name, became the quarry of his own obsessed pursuit.
He conked his hair and Lindy-hopped, zoot-suited jiver, swinging those chicks in the hot rose and reefer glow.
His injured childhood bullied him. He skirmished in the Upas trees and cannibal flowers of the American Dream–
but could not hurt the enemy powered against him there.
I have been one acquainted with the night. I have walked out in rain—and back in rain. I have outwalked the furthest city light.
I have looked down the saddest city lane. I have passed by the watchman on his beat And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain.
I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet When far away an interrupted cry Came over houses from another street,
But not to call me back or say good-bye; And further still at an unearthly height, One luminary clock against the sky
Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right. I have been one acquainted with the night.
Robert Frost, “Acquainted with the Night” from The Poetry of Robert Frost, edited by Edward Connery Lathem. Copyright © 1964, 1970 by Leslie Frost Ballantine. Copyright 1936, 1942 © 1956 by Robert Frost. Copyright 1923, 1928, © 1969 by Henry Holt and Co. Reprinted with the permission of Henry Holt & Company, LLC. Source: Twentieth-Century American Poetry (2004)
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