Hart Crane
Hart Crane, 1899-1932


Black Tambourine


The interests of a black man in a cellar
Mark tardy judgment on the world’s closed door.
Gnats toss in the shadow of a bottle,
And a roach spans a crevice in the floor.

Aesop, driven to pondering, found
Heaven with the tortoise and the hare;
Fox brush and sow ear top his grave
And mingling incantations on the air.


The black man, forlorn in the cellar,
Wanders in some mid-kingdom, dark, that lies,
Between his tambourine, stuck on the wall,
And, in Africa, a carcass quick with flies.




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“Black Tambourine” composed in 1921
 and first published in June 1921

It also appeared in Crane’s 
White Buildings (1926)

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