1903-1946. African American
born in NYC. Fixture of the Harlem Renaissance
Contee Cullen was heavily influenced by English poets Keats and Shelly. He began writing poetry at the tender age of 14. He studied at NYU and during that time his poetry was published in W. E. B. Du Bois's The Crisis.
As his popularity increased, he saw his work published in many other journals including Harper's, Century Magazine, and Poetry. He also won numerous awards and upon his graduation, went on to Harvard University.
Cullen was raised in predominately white communities and though his work centered often on the lives of other Black Americans, he never incorporated urban vernacular or dialect into his work. Cullen precieved his art as universal and felt that the language of his poetry reflected this. He received some criticism after his second book Copper Sun was released because the subject of race in the book was purely secondary.
His poetry books include: Color (1925); Copper Sun (1927); The Black Christ (1929); and On These I Stand (1947).
Children's books: The Lost Zoo (1940).
Novels: One Way to Heaven (1931).
For a Lady
She even thinks that up in heaven
Her class lies late and snores
While poor black cherubs rise at seven
To do celestial chores
Dead men are wisest, for they know
How far the roots of flowers go,
How long a seed must rot to grow.
Dead men alone bear frost and rain
On throbless heart and heatless brain,
And feel no stir of joy or pain.
Dead men alone are satiate;
They sleep and dream and have no weight,
To curb their rest, of love or hate.
Strange, men should flee their company,
Or think me strange who long to be
Wrapped in their cool immunity.
Source: Encarta.com; Poets.org