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‘From the Dark Tower’ is a poem written by Countee Cullen. It is an optimistic poem that believes that the state of the Black Community will one day change for the better.
About the Poet:
Countee Cullen (1903-1946) was a prominent American poet. He is known for his role during the Harlem Renaissance. Famous works of his include ‘Color’, ‘Caroling Dusk’, and ‘The Black Christ’.
We shall not always plant while others reap The golden increment of bursting fruit, Not always countenance, abject and mute, That lesser men should hold their brothers cheap; Not everlastingly while others sleep Shall we beguile their limbs with mellow flute, Not always bend to some more subtle brute; We were not made to eternally weep.
The poem begins with the collective pronoun ‘we’, referring to the Black Community as a whole. The persona states thus that they won’t always be robbed of their labour while ‘others’, referring to the Whites, reaped the fruits of their hard work.
They won’t always remain silent as those inferior to them treat them ‘cheap’, only to ‘sleep’ and turn a blind eye. The poem ends on an assertive note that they shall not bend to others’ will always and wallow in grief ‘eternally’.
The night whose sable breast relieves the stark, White stars is no less lovely being dark, And there are buds that cannot bloom at all In light, but crumple, piteous, and fall; So in the dark we hide the heart that bleeds, And wait, and tend our agonizing seeds.
The night sky, which is black with white stars in it, is no less beautiful because of its colour. Similarly, there happens to exist flowers that are unable to bloom during daylight. Just like these flowers, the Black Community is hiding in the dark, waiting to overcome this racial indiscrimination one day even as they tended to their ‘seeds’, that is, pain.
This is an emotional poem that is a siren call to action. It vividly brings forth the pain and suffering of the Black Community and how they deserve equal rights as well.