Text Box: Posted 24th July 2006 2100GMT
If We Must 
Die 
Claude McKay
If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursed lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen we must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!
       覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧-
In 1919 there was a wave of race riots consisting mainly of assaults on black neighborhoods in American cities. African-Jamaican-born writer,  Claude McKay 1890-1948, responded by writing this sonnet, urging his comrades to fight back. It had a powerful impact, then and later
Claude McKay was born in Jamaica on 15th September, 1890. He began writing poetry as a schoolboy. He worked as a policeman in Spanish Town and when he was twenty-two had his first volume of poems, Songs of Jamaica (1912) published. 

In 1912 McKay moved to the United States where he attended Tuskegee Institute in Alabama and Kansas State University. He continued to write poetry and in 1918 his work was praised by both Frank Harris and Max Eastman. The following year, his poem, If We Must Die, was published in Eastman's journal, The Liberator. 

Frank Harris encouraged McKay to obtain writing experience in England. In 1919 McKay travelled to England where he met George Bernard Shaw who introduced him to influential left-wing figures in journalism. This included Sylvia Pankhurst, who recruited him to write for her trade union journal, Workers' Dreadnought. While in London McKay read the works of Karl Marx and becomes a committed socialist. 

In 1921 McKay returned to New York and became associate editor of The Liberator. Over the next year the journal published articles by McKay such as How Black Sees Green and Red and He Who Gets Slapped. He also published his best known volume of verse, Harlem Shadows (1922).

In 1922 McKay went to Third International in Moscow where he represented the American Workers Party. He stayed in Europe where he wrote Trial by Lynching: Stories About Negro Life in America (1925) and Home to Harlem (1928), a novel about a disillusioned black soldier in the US Army who returns from the Western Front to live in a black ghetto. This was followed by other novels such as Banjo (1928), Gingertown (1932) and Banana Bottom (1933). 

McKay gradually lost faith in communism and returned to the United States in 1934. Employment was difficult to find and for a while he worked for the Federal Writers' Project. McKay's published work during this period included his autobiography, A Long Way From Home (1937) and Harlem: Negro Metropolis (1940).

Unable to make a living from writing, McKay found work in a shipbuilding yard. In 1943 he suffers a stroke and the following year was baptized into the Roman Catholic faith. In 1945 his essay, On Becoming a Roman Catholic, was published. Claude McKay died in Chicago on 22nd May, 1948.
 

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Last up-dated 23 July 2006

 

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Britain Commemorates the Bicentenary

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One of the Black Community痴 Contributions -

 

鼎ries of Our Kidnapped Afrikan Ancestors

 

 

________________

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鄭ll faith is FALSE, all faith is TRUE.

TRUTH is the shattered mirrors strewn In myriad bits; while each BELIEVES

His LITTLE BIT the whole to own.

 

From 典he Kasidah of Hji Abu el-Yezdi, as translated by Sir Richard F. Burton

 

Home

Publications and

Reviews

Health Issues

HIV/Aids & Creators

Profiles

(Legends in their fields)

Education and Training

Community Matters

The Environment

Sports

Films,

Music & Entertainment

Youth & the Survival Game in Britain (YSGB)

Short Story & Writers Forum

What is Pan-Africanism

Editorial

Resident and Guest Correspondents

 

______________

1807-2007

 

Britain Commemorates the Bicentenary

of The Slave Trade Abolition Act 1807.

One of the Black Community痴 Contributions -

 

鼎ries of Our Kidnapped Ancestors

 

 

________________

Beliefs and Commentaries

鄭ll faith is FALSE, all faith is TRUE.

TRUTH is the shattered mirrors strewn In myriad bits; while each BELIEVES

His LITTLE BIT the whole to own.

 

From 典he Kasidah of Hji Abu el-Yezdi, as translated by Sir Richard F. Burton