Gwendolyn Brooks’s “PAUL ROBESON”

Gwendolyn Brooks’s poem is about the great African-American singer and radical activist Paul Robeson (1898-1977). The last seven lines seem so right, right now. (PJB)

by Gwendolyn Brooks

That time

we all heard it,

cool and clear,

cutting across the hot grit of the day.

The major Voice.

The adult Voice

forgoing Rolling River,

forgoing tearful tale of bale and barge

and other symptoms of an old despond.

Warning, in music-words

devout and large,

that we are each other’s


we are each other’s


we are each other’s magnitude and bond.

Gwendolyn Brooks, “PAUL ROBESON” from Blacks. Third World Press, 1984. Shared with the Humanities Institute by Elizabeth Frye of Humanities Texas.

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