Arna Bontemps

September 26, 2006


Key figure in the Harlem Renaissance
Writer, teacher, novelist, poet, anthologist, historian, biographer, literary scholar
Friend and correspondent of Langston Hughes
Poems remembered for vivid evocations of African-American experience and aspirations
Born in Louisiana, raised in Los Angeles, taught in New York
Poetry is notable for exploring problesm of racial justice


I have sown beside all waters in my day. / I planted deep, within my heart the fear / That wind or fowl would take the grain away. / I planted safe against this stark, lean year.
I scattered seed enough to plant the land / In rows from Canada to Mexico / But for my reaping only what the hand / Can hold at once is all that I can show.
Yet what I sowed and what the orchard yields / My brother’s sons are gathering stalk and root; / Small wonder then my children glean in fields / They have not sown, and feed on bitter fruit.

-A Black Man Talks of Reaping (in whole)


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