Turn Me to My Yellow Leaves

William Stanley Braithwaite

William Stanley Braithwaite

An editor, anthologist, critic, and published poet himself, Braithwaite was a key figure in the revival of American poetry in the early decades of the twentieth century. From 1913 to 1929 he published the Anthology of Magazine Verse, an important annual collection that showcased the work of emerging poets on the American scene. "At a critical moment in our nation's literature, it was his voice which issued a clarion call for the support of American poetry," asserted Kenny J. Williams in the Dictionary of Literary Biography volume, Afro-American Writers Before the Harlem Renaissance. "At the same time, he was one of the first to explore the role of the Negro in literature and to champion the cause of the Afro-American writer in places where he could be heard."

TURN me to my yellow leaves,
I am better satisfied;
There is something in me grieves—
That was never born, and died.
Let me be a scarlet flame
On a windy autumn morn,
I who never had a name,
Nor from breathing image born.
From the margin let me fall
Where the farthest stars sink down,
And the void consumes me,—all
In nothingness to drown.
Let me dream my dream entire,
Withered as an autumn leaf—
Let me have my vain desire,
Vain—as it is brief.


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