French Leave

French Leave
By Claude McKay

No servile little fear shall daunt my will
  This morning, I have courage steeled to say
I will be lazy, conqueringly still,
  I will not lose the hours in toil this day.

The roaring world without, careless of souls,
  Shall leave me to my placid dream of rest,
My four walls shield me from its shouting ghouls,
  And all its hates have fled my quiet breast.

And I will loll here resting, wide awake,
  Dead to the world of work, the world of love,
I laze contented just for dreaming’s sake,
  With not the slightest urge to think or move.

How tired unto death, how tired I was!
  Now for a day I put my burdens by,
And like a child amidst the meadow grass
  Under the southern sun, I languid lie,

And feel the bed about me kindly deep,
  My strength ooze gently from my hollow bones,
My worried brain drift aimlessly to sleep,
  Life soften to a song of tuneful tones.

About the Poet

Festus Claudius McKay was born in Sunny Ville, Clarendon Parish, Jamaica, on September 15, 1889. Better known as Claude McKay, he moved to Harlem, New York, after publishing his first books of poetry, and established himself as a literary voice for social justice during the Harlem Renaissance. He is known for his novels, essays and poems, including “If We Must Die” and “Harlem Shadows.” He died on May 22, 1948, in Chicago, Illinois.

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A “French leave” is a departure from a location or event without informing others or without seeking approval. Examples include relatively innocuous acts such as leaving a party without bidding farewell in order to avoid disturbing or upsetting the host, or more problematic acts such as a soldier leaving their post without authorization.

About Joe

I began my life in the South and for five years lived as a closeted teacher, but am now making a new life for myself as an oral historian in New England. I think my life will work out the way it was always meant to be. That doesn't mean there won't be ups and downs; that's all part of life. It means I just have to be patient. I feel like October 7, 2015 is my new birthday. It's a beginning filled with great hope. It's a second chance to live my life…not anyone else's. My profile picture is "David and Me," 2001 painting by artist Steve Walker. It happens to be one of my favorite modern gay art pieces. View all posts by Joe

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