blacktitle.jpg (12329 bytes)

Additional Poems by Gladys May Casley-Hayford


Dawn for the rich, the artistic and the
Is beauty splashed on canvas of the skies,
The brushes being the clouds that float
    the blue,
Dipped in the breeze for paint, and washed
    by dew.

But dawn to those who bathe the night in
Squeeze sustenance from hard unyielding
Is full of strange imaginings and fears.
The dawn renews the terror of the day
Where harassing uncertainties hold sway;
And pain held in surcease through brief
    hours of rest
Roars up its head in its unceasing quest
To wear out body, brain and mind and soul
Till death is a resolve, and death a goal.
For those life holds no beauty, dawn no
For day is hopeless, dawn is struck with

Rainy Season Love Song

Out of the tense awed darkness, my Frangepani comes:
Whilst the blades of Heaven flash round her, and the roll of
    thunder drums,
My young heart leaps and dances, with exquisite joy and pain,
As, storms within and storms without, I meet my love in the

"The rain is in love with you darling; it's kissing you
Rain pattering over your small brown feet, rain in your curly
Rain in the vale that your twin breasts make, as in delicate
    mounds they rise;
I hope there is rain in your heart, Frangepani, as rain half fills
    your eyes."

Into my hands she cometh, and the lightning of my desire
Flashes and leaps about her, more subtle than Heaven's fire;
"The lightning's in love with you darling; it is loving you so
That its warm electricity in you pulses wherever I may touch.
When I kiss your lips and your eyes, and your hands like twin
    flowers apart,
I know there is lightning, Frangepani, deep in the depths of your

The thunder rumbles about us, and I feel its triumphant note
As your warm arms steal around me, and I kiss your dusky
"The thunder's in love with you darling; it hides its power in
    your breast,
And I feel it stealing o'er me as I lie in your arms at rest.
I sometimes wonder, beloved, when I drink from life's proffered
Whether there's thunder hidden in the innermost parts of your

Out of my arms she stealeth, and I am left alone with the night,
Void of all sounds save peace, the first faint glimmer of light.
Into some quiet, hushed stillness my Frangepani goes.
Is there peace within the peace without? Only the darkness

From Caroling Dusk, ed. Countée Cullen (1927)

My Lips

My lips were buds of innocence until you
    came one day
And drew a fountain from my heart and
    careless went your way,

My lips were hungry, eager flowers curved
    in ecstatic bliss
To gather the soft sweetness of my next
    lover's kiss.

My lips were luscious ripeness of a crushed
    and poisoned vine
When you bent your lips upon me and my soft
    ones clung to thine

My lips are withering fading flowers, full
    weary unto death
Dew without moisture is thy kiss; wind
    without heat thy breath.

A fugitive tear wells up from my eyes and
    is secretly, silently shed.
Are lips that once were innocent, so
    withered, so parched, so dead?


I did not know that you had the power to
    hurt me,
I think I must have bequeathed it to you
One starlit night when I read the secret in
    your eyes.
Did you read mine? I know now that you did.
Use your power gently, beloved, for in your
    hands it becomes a merciless whip.

I did not know that you had the power to
    make me happy,
I think I must have bequeathed it to you
In the warm darkness when your lips met mine
    and pressed their weight of love on them.
Did your soul leap to meet mine? I know now
    that it did.
Use your power gently, beloved, lest in your
    hands it grows too great for me.

The Cart-Horse

When blue becomes intense and dusks to grey,
Grey unto darkness shrouding the worn day,
I like to lie awake and gaze upon the
    cloudless sky
And hear the song of the cart-wheels as the
old cart-horse goes by.
The squeaking boards,
The rusty chains,
The clank of steel and brass,
The intermittent hoof-beats as the old
    cart-horse goes past.

When darkness turns to grey again and grey
    to light,
When little wrens awake prepared for flight,
I like to lie awake with the warm sun
    streaming in,
And try to understand the tune the good old
    cart-wheels sing.
The squeaking boards,
The rusty chains,
The clank of steel and brass;
Oh, I love to hear the music of the cart-
    horse going past!

The Chief of Kitchom

Down to the Government Wharf
The Chief of Kitchom came,
Direct descendant of the line
That reigns in Kitchom's name.

His face was like a hawk,
His eyes were bright and keen,
His mouth, a twist of irony,
His smile, swift cut and clean.

His pride sat on his brow
Like broad philactery,
His royalty like bands of steel
Girt round his dignity.

His gown was gara blue,
His red fez bound with white;
Nested each charm and prayer encased
In leather from our sight.

He looked a tower of strength,
His muscles easy played,
Rippled beneath his jet black skin
With every step he essayed.

His fingers gleamed with rings,
His feet were sandal-shod,
Girdles and chains hung round his neck,
His strong hand held a sword.

Thus Kitchom's naked blade
Gleamed in the setting sun,
And Kitchom's drums with throbbing beats
Mingled their tones as one.

Thirty slim, dark brown girls
stepped to the water's side,
'Behold the great-chief's wives,’ they said,
For each had been a bride.

A great crowd pressed about
Whilst from the boat's shaped stern,
Soft music poured from balanges
As water from an urn.

Put out, away to the west,
We breast the open main;
The Chief of Kitchom has been from home
And now returns again.

The boat is a tiny speck,
We stand on the quay alone;
While the sun breaks its red aureole
O'er the Chief that is going home.

[gara = indigo dye]

Return to Gladys May Casely-Haydford