Some are teethed on a silver spoon,
With the stars strung for a rattle;
I cut my teeth as the black racoon–
For implements of battle.
Some are swaddled in silk and down,
And heralded by a star;
They swathed my limbs in a sackcloth gown
On a night that was black as tar.
For some, godfather and goddame
The opulent fairies be;
Dame Poverty gave me my name,
And Pain godfathered me.
For I was born on Saturday–
“Bad time for planting a seed,”
Was all my father had to say,
And, “One mouth more to feed.”
Death cut the strings that gave me life,
And handed me to Sorrow,
The only kind of middle wife
My folks could beg or borrow
Born: 30 May 1903, New York, USA
Died: 9 January 1946, New York, USA
Probably raised by his maternal grandmother, Cullen was unofficially adopted at age 15 by the Reverend FA Cullen, minister of Salem ME Church, Harlem. He won a citywide poetry contest as a schoolboy and winning stanzas were widely reproduced. He attended New York University where Cullen won the Witter Bynner Prize and was elected Phi Beta Kappa. His poems were regular accepted by major American magazines and his first collection, Color, was published to critical acclaim in 1925