Gwendolyn Brooks

It is brave to be involved
To be not fearful to be unresolved.
Exhaust the little moment.
Soon it dies.
And be it gash or gold it will not come
Again in this identical guise.

Gwendolyn Brooks (7 June 19173 December 2000) was an American poet. She received the Pulitzer Prize for Literature for her book of poems Annie Allen.

QuotesEdit

Art hurts. Art urges voyages—
and it is easier to stay at home.
Art is a refining and evocative translation of the materials of the world.
And all the little people
Will stare at me and say,
"That is the Crazy Woman
Who would not sing in May."
consider the big fists breaking your little bones,
or consider the vague bureaucrats
stumbling, fumbling through Paper.
Even if you are not ready for day
it cannot always be night.
Truth-tellers are not always palatable. There is a preference for candy bars.
  • It is brave to be involved
    To be not fearful to be unresolved.
    • "do not be afraid of no" from Annie Allen (1949)
  • Exhaust the little moment.
    Soon it dies.
    And be it gash or gold it will not come
    Again in this identical guise.
    • "exhaust the little moment" from Annie Allen (1949)
  • We real cool. We
    Left school. We
    Lurk late. We
    Strike straight. We
    Sing sin. We
    Thin gin. We
    Jazz June. We
    Die soon.
    • "We ReaI CooI" , The Bean Eaters (1960)
    • The "We"—you're supposed to stop after the "We" and think about their validity, and of course there's no way for you to tell whether it should be said softly or not, I suppose, but I say it rather softly because I want to represent their basic uncertainty, which they don't bother to question every day, of course.
      • "An Interview with Gwendolyn Brooks", Contemporary Literature 11:1 (Winter 1970)
    • The WEs in "We Real Cool" are tiny, wispy, weakly argumentative "Kilroy-is-here" announcements. The boys have no accented sense of themselves, yet they are aware of a semi-defined personal importance. Say the "We" softly.
      • Report from Part One (1972)
  • Art hurts. Art urges voyages—
    and it is easier to stay at home.
    • "The Chicago Picasso" (1968)
  • When I start writing a poem, I don't think about models or about what anybody else in the world has done.
    • "An Interview with Gwendolyn Brooks", Contemporary Literature 11:1 (Winter 1970)
  • A writer should get as much education as possible, but just going to school is not enough; if it were, all owners of doctorates would be inspired writers.
    • Report From Part One (1972)
  • As you get older, you find that often the wheat, disentangling itself from the chaff, comes out to meet you.
    • Report From Part One (1972)
  • Art is a refining and evocative translation of the materials of the world.
    • Black Poetry Writing (1975)
  • Be careful what you swallow. Chew!
    • Advice to graduates, Buena Vista University Graduation (1995)
  • I am a writer perhaps because I am not a talker.
    • My Soul Looks Back, 'Less I Forget (1995) by Dorothy Winbush Riley
  • I am interested in telling my particular truth as I have seen it.
    • Quoted in her obituary in The Guardian (7 December 2000)
  • To be in love
    Is to touch with a lighter hand.

    In yourself you stretch, you are well.
    • "To Be In Love"
  • He is not there but
    You know you are tasting together
    The winter, or a light spring weather.
    His hand to take your hand is
    overmuch.
    Too much too bear.
    • "To Be In Love"
  • I shall not sing a May song.
    A May song should be gay.
    I'll wait until November
    And sing a song of gray.
    • "The Crazy Woman"
  • And all the little people
    Will stare at me and say,
    "That is the Crazy Woman
    Who would not sing in May.
    "
    • "The Crazy Woman"
  • I hold my honey and I store my bread
    In little jars and cabinets of my will.
    I label clearly, and each latch and lid
    I bid, Be firm till I return from hell.
    • "my dreams, my works, must wait till after hell"
  • consider the big fists breaking your little bones,
    or consider the vague bureaucrats
    stumbling, fumbling through Paper.
    • "Thinking of Elizabeth Steinberg"
  • Is earnest enough, may earnest attract or lead to light;
    Is light enough, if hands in clumsy frenzy, flimsy whimsically, enlist;
    Is light enough when this bewilderment crying against the dark shuts down the shades?
    Dilute confusion. Find and explode our mist.
    • "garbageman: the man with the orderly mind"
  • Say to them,
    say to the down-keepers,
    the sun-slappers,
    the self-soilers,
    the harmony-hushers,
    "even if you are not ready for day
    it cannot always be night."
    You will be right.
    • Speech to the Young : Speech to the Progress-Toward
  • Truth-tellers are not always palatable. There is a preference for candy bars.
    • "Song for Winnie"

The Ballad of Rudolph ReedEdit

Small Mabel whimpered all night long,
For calling herself the cause.
Her oak-eyed mother did no thing
But change the bloody gauze.
  • Rudolph Reed was oaken.
    His wife was oaken too.
    And his two good girls and his good little man
    Oakened as they grew.
  • Nary a grin grinned Rudolph Reed,
    Nary a curse cursed he,
    But moved in his House. With his dark little wife,
    And his dark little children three.
  • The first night, a rock, big as two fists.
    The second, a rock big as three.
    But nary a curse cursed Rudolph Reed.
    (Though oaken as man could be.)
    The third night, a silvery ring of glass.
    Patience arched to endure,
    But he looked, and lo! small Mabel's blood
    Was staining her gaze so pure.
  • He ran like a mad thing into the night
    And the words in his mouth were stinking.
    By the time he had hurt his first white man
    He was no longer thinking.
    By the time he had hurt his fourth white man
    Rudolph Reed was dead.
    His neighbors gathered and kicked his corpse.
    "Nigger—" his neighbors said.
  • Small Mabel whimpered all night long,
    For calling herself the cause.
    Her oak-eyed mother did no thing
    But change the bloody gauze.

The Good ManEdit

  • The good man.
    He is still enhancer, renouncer.
    In the time of detachment,
    in the time of the vivid heather and affectionate evil,
    in the time of oral
    grave grave legalities of hate - all real
    walks our prime registered reproach and seal.
    Our successful moral.
    The good man.
  • Coherent
    Counsel! Good man.
    Require of us our terribly excluded blue.
    Constrain, repair a ripped, revolted land.
    Put hand in hand land over.
    Reprove
    the abler droughts and manias of the day
    and a felicity entreat.
    Love.
    Complete
    your pledges, reinforce your aides, renew
    stance, testament.

A Sunset of the CityEdit

  • Already I am no longer looked at with lechery or love.
    My daughters and sons have put me away with marbles and dolls,
    Are gone from the house.
    My husband and lovers are pleasant or somewhat polite
    And night is night.
  • It is a real chill out,
    The genuine thing.
    I am not deceived, I do not think it is still summer
    Because sun stays and birds continue to sing.
  • It is a real chill out. The fall crisp comes
    I am aware there is winter to heed.
    There is no warm house
    That is fitted with my need.
  • Come: there shall be such islanding from grief,
    And small communion with the master shore.
    Twang they. And I incline this ear to tin,
    Consult a dual dilemma. Whether to dry
    In humming pallor or to leap and die.
  • Somebody muffed it?? Somebody wanted to joke.

The MotherEdit

  • Abortions will not let you forget.
    You remember the children you got that you did not get,
    The damp small pulps with a little or with no hair,
    The singers and workers that never handled the air.
    You will never neglect or beat
    Them, or silence or buy with a sweet.
    You will never wind up the sucking-thumb
    Or scuttle off ghosts that come.
  • I have heard in the voices of the wind the voices of my dim killed children.
    I have contracted. I have eased
    My dim dears at the breasts they could never suck.
    I have said, Sweets, if I sinned, if I seized
    Your luck
    And your lives from your unfinished reach,
    If I stole your births and your names,
    Your straight baby tears and your games,
    Your stilted or lovely loves, your tumults, your marriages, aches,
    and your deaths,
    If I poisoned the beginnings of your breaths,
    Believe that even in my deliberateness I was not deliberate.
  • What shall I say, how is the truth to be said?
    You were born, you had body, you died.
    It is just that you never giggled or planned or cried.
  • Believe me, I loved you all.
    Believe me, I knew you, though faintly, and I loved, I loved you
    All.

Paul RobesonEdit

We are each other's
harvest:
we are each other's
business:
we are each other's
magnitude and bond.
From Family Pictures (1971)
  • That time
    we all heard it,
    cool and clear,
    cutting across the hot grit of the day.
    The major Voice.
    The adult Voice
    forgoing Rolling River,
    forgoing tearful tale of bale and barge
    and other symptoms of an old despond.
    Warning, in music-words
    devout and large,
    that we are each other's
    harvest:
    we are each other's
    business:
    we are each other's
    magnitude and bond.


MisattributedEdit

Our earth is round, and, among other things
That means that you and I can hold completely different
Points of view and both be right.
The difference of our positions will show
Stars in your window I cannot even imagine.

"Corners on the Curving Sky"Edit

  • Our earth is round, and, among other things
    That means that you and I can hold completely different
    Points of view and both be right.
    The difference of our positions will show
    Stars in your window I cannot even imagine.

    Your sky may burn with light,
    While mine, at the same moment,
    Spreads beautiful to darkness.
    • The above statements have been widely published in the above format as lines of verse attributed to Brooks, usually as a poem titled "Corners on the Curving Sky" — but one website indicated that she declared she did not write them. The words actually occur as an introduction to the "Corners on the Curving Sky" section of the book Soulscript (1970) compiled by June Jordan, in which other poems of Brooks were included, and thus is apparently the work of Jordan. It appears simply in paragraph form and reads thus:
Our earth is round, and, among other things, that means that you and I can hold completely different points of view and both be right. The difference of our positions will show stars in your window I cannot even imagine. Your sky may burn with light, while mine, at the same moment, spreads beautiful to darkness. Still we must choose how we separately corner the circling universe of our experience. Once chosen, our cornering will determine the message of any star and darkness we encounter. These poems speak to philosophy; they reveal the corners where we organize what we know.

External linksEdit

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Last modified on 13 April 2014, at 05:57