That Bright Chimeric Beast by Countee Cullen

That Bright Chimeric Beast
1929

That bright chimeric beast
Conceived yet never born,
Save in the poet’s breast,
The white-flanked unicorn,
Never may be shaken
From his solitude;
Never may be taken
In any earthly wood.

That bird forever feathered,
Of its new self the sire,
After aeons weathered,
Reincarnate by fire,
Falcon may not nor eagle
Swerve from his eyrie,
Nor any crumb inveigle
Down to an earthly tree.

That fish of the dread regime
Invented to become
The fable and the dream
Of the Lord’s aquarium,
Leviathan, the jointed
Harpoon was never wrought
By which the Lord’s anointed
Will suffer to be caught.

Bird of the deathless breast,
Fish of the frantic fin,
That bright chimeric beast
Flashing the argent skin,–
If beasts like these you’d harry,
Plumb then the poet’s dream;
Make it your aviary,
Make it your wood and stream.

There only shall the swish
Be heard of the regal fish;
There like a golden knife
Dart the feet of the unicorn,
And there, death brought to life,
The dead bird be reborn

Countee Cullen

Countee Cullen
Born: 30 May 1903, New York, USA
Nationality: American
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

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