Poetry

Gwendolyn Brooks – Boy Breaking Glass

“I shall create! If not a note, a hole.
If not an overture, a desecration.”

– Gwendolyn Brooks


Gwendolyn Brooks’ Boy Breaking Glass looks at the creative imperative and the drive towards expression in a boy with curtailed options. Dedicated to the writer Marc Crawford who asked Brooks to write a poem about inequality, the images she uses are detractive and dissonant – the hole in the glass filled with the contrasting black and white objects. She sees the boy’s act of vandalism as a desperate channel of self-expression, a ‘beautiful flaw and terrible ornament.’ Born in Kansas in 1917, Brooks had her first poem published at the age of 14 and was the first black author to win the Pulitzer Prize.


Boy Breaking Glass

To Marc Crawford
from whom the commission

Whose broken window is a cry of art
(success, that winks aware
as elegance, as a treasonable faith)
is raw: is sonic: is old-eyed première.
Our beautiful flaw and terrible ornament.
Our barbarous and metal little man.

“I shall create! If not a note, a hole.
If not an overture, a desecration.”

Full of pepper and light
and Salt and night and cargoes.

“Don’t go down the plank
if you see there’s no extension.
Each to his grief, each to
his loneliness and fidgety revenge.
Nobody knew where I was and now I am no longer there.”

The only sanity is a cup of tea.
The music is in minors.

Each one other
is having different weather.

“It was you, it was you who threw away my name!
And this is everything I have for me.”

Who has not Congress, lobster, love, luau,
the Regency Room, the Statue of Liberty,
runs. A sloppy amalgamation.
A mistake.
A cliff.
A hymn, a snare, and an exceeding sun.

Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000)

From: Blacks

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