Countee Cullen
By: Amaria Moore

Countee Cullen; born on May 30th, 1903 in Kentucky and died on January 9th, 1946 of high blood pressure and uremic poisoning in New York.


Countee Cullen was raised by his grandmother, but after her death when he was 15, he was unofficially adopted by the minister of a Harlem congregation, Rev. F.A. Cullen. Countee received a Master ofArts degree from Harvard in 1826 and got a job as an editor's assistant for Opportunity magazine. In 1928, Cullen married W.E.B. DuBois' daughter,Yolande DuBois. Two years later in 1930, they got divorced. Cullen married his second wife, Ida Mae Roberson, in 1940. Countee was different from other Harlem writers because he used traditional English styles in his poems.
Countee Cullen's first published poem, "I have a Rendezvous With Life" was featured in his high school's magazine. Later on, Cullen was still receiving many awards for his writing. Some of these awards was the Witter Bynner Poetry contest in 1925, John Reed Memorial Prize, Amy Spingarn Award, and second prize in the poetry contest of Palms. Not only did he win these awards, but he was recognized during the Harlem Renaissance by both blacks and whites. After his career as a poet was winding down, he taught French and English at a Frederick Douglas Junior High School.


By: Countee Cullen

Once riding in old Baltimore,
Heart-filled, head-filled with glee;
I saw a baltimorean
Keep looking straight at me.

Now I was eight and very small,
And he was no whit bigger,
And so I smiled, but he poked out
His tongue, and called me, "Nigger."

I saw the whole of Baltimore
From May until December;
Of all the things that happened there
That's all that I remember.

Poetry Analysis:

Reaction: I think that this poem is showing how as a little child there are not any feelings of hatred between colored people and white people unless they were taught to feel that. This poem shows that the child smiled because they were raised to be polite where as the baltimorean was taught to call black people foul words and treat them with disrespect. Also, because the child was very little, the child may not have understood why the baltimorean would treat him like that. The poem says that even though the child was there for eight months, they only remembered this instance. I think that is because this kid was confused by the baltimorean's actions and it taught him that people thought of blacks differently.

Structure: The poem has every second and fourth sentence rhyming and there is a rhythm.

Speaker: The speaker is looking back at an experience they had when they were a child.

Tone: This poem seems innocent and sad.

Theme/Meaning: This poem means that even from a young age there was discrimination being taught.

" Countee Cullen Biography - Facts, Birthday, Life Story - ." Famous Biographies & TV Shows - . (accessed March 16, 2012).
"Countee Cullen." The Baltimore Literary Heritage Project. (accessed March 16, 2012).
"Countee Cullen was a Yonkers Resident." Yonkers Historical Society Home Page. (accessed March 16, 2012).