Arna Bontemps

(1902 - 1973)

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Arnaud "Arna" Wendell Bontemps (October 13, 1902 – June 4, 1973) was an American poet and a noted member of the Harlem Renaissance.

Bontemps was born in the city of Alexandria, Louisiana, on October 13, 1902 to Charlie Bontemps and Marie Pembrooke Bontemps, a Louisiana Creole family. When he was three, his family moved to Los Angeles, California, in the Great Migration of ... more »

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Best Poem of Arna Bontemps

A Black Man Talks of Reaping

I have sown beside all waters in my day.
I planted deep, within my heart the fear
that wind or fowl would take the grain away.
I planted safe against this stark, lean year.

I scattered seed enough to plant the land
in rows from Canada to Mexico
but for my reaping only what the hand
can hold at once is all that I can show.

Yet what I sowed and what the orchard yields
my brother's sons are gathering stalk and root;
small wonder then my children glean in fields
they have not sown, and feed on bitter fruit.

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