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Dark Testament: and Other Poems

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With the cadences of Martin Luther King Jr. and the lyricism of Langston Hughes, the great civil rights activist Pauli Murray’s sole book of poems finally returns to print.

There has been explosive interest in the life of Pauli Murray, as reflected in a recent profile in The New Yorker, the publication of a definitive biography, and a new Yale University college in her name. Murray has been suddenly cited by leading historians as a woman who contributed far more to the civil rights movement than anyone knew, being arrested in 1940—fifteen years before Rosa Parks—for refusing to give up her seat on a Virginia bus. Celebrated by twenty-first-century readers as a civil rights activist on the level of King, Parks, and John Lewis, she is also being rediscovered as a gifted writer of memoir, sermons, and poems. Originally published in 1970 and long unavailable, Dark Testament and Other Poems attests to her fierce lyrical powers. At turns song, prayer, and lamentation, Murray’s poems speak to the brutal history of slavery and Jim Crow and the dream of racial justice and equality.

ISBN-13: 9781631494833

Media Type: Paperback(New Edition)

Publisher: Liveright Publishing Corporation

Publication Date: 09-04-2018

Pages: 128

Product Dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.50(d)

Pauli Murray (1910–1985) was born in Baltimore and raised in Durham, North Carolina. The first African American woman to receive a doctorate of law at Yale, her name now graces one of Yale University’s new colleges. She is the author of Song in a Weary Throat, her posthumous memoir.

Table of Contents

Introduction Elizabeth Alexander xi

I Dark Testament 1

II "I am the American heartbreak"

Color Trouble 23

To the Oppressors 24

Mulatto's Dilemma 25

Mr. Roosevelt Regrets 27

Harlem Riot, 1943 28

The Passing of F.D.R. 29

Collect for Poplarville 32

For Mack C. Parker 33

Ruth 34

Psalm of Deliverance 35

III "I … am not contain'd between my hat and my boots."

Youth to Age 45

Youth, 1933 46

The Newer Cry 49

Hate 51

Quarrel 52

To Poets Who Have Rebelled 53

Tongues 56

The Song of the Highway 57

Conscription-1940 59

War Widow 61

Woman and Man 62

Nazarene 63

Death of a Friend 64

Conflict 65

Prophecy 66

IV No Greener Spring

Without Name 69

Tears 70

Counsel 71

Dinner Tar Three 72

Prelude to Spring 73

Love's More Enduring Uses 74

Icarus 75

Of Death and Doom 76

Words 77

Aloofness 78

Empty of Seed 79

Paradox 80

For Pan 81

Anguish 83

A Presence 84

Memo in Bronze 85

Returning Spring 86

Unconquerable Dust 87

The Wanderer 88

Conquest 93

Love in Wartime 94

Redemption 95

Acknowledgments 97