Southern Mansion- Bontemps

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As usual, I want to share the poetry of some of my favorite poets with you all during this month which celebrates poetry. This time it is piece from Harlem Renaissance poet Arnaud “Arna” Bontemps. This poem is so beautiful and full of imagery. I have my students examining this piece this week to try to decipher what it means, the language and the poet’s intent. I hope you all enjoy.

Southern Mansion

Poplars are standing there still as death
And ghosts of dead men
Meet their ladies walking
Two by two beneath the shade
And standing on the marble steps.

There is a sound of music echoing
Through the open door
And in the field there is
Another sound tinkling in the cotton:
Chains of bondmen dragging on the ground.

The years go back with an iron clank,
A hand is on the gate,
A dry leaf trembles on the wall.
Ghosts are walking.
They have broken roses down
And poplars stand there still as death.

-Arna Bontemps

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