Countee Cullen

(30 May 1903 – 9 January 1946 / New York)

Incident

Poem 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.


Comments about Incident by Countee Cullen

  • Cam Davis (4/22/2020 8:05:00 PM)

    Ok but who gave siri the n word pass?(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Yonathan shanko (3/29/2020 9:41:00 AM)

    " Incident" is a short poem that packs a huge punch. Its speaker is an African-American man who looks back on a pivotal moment of his life in which he encounters racism.... Cullen was deeply involved in African-American culture and politics, and he was pals with the leading black intellectuals of the age.(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Michael WalkerMichael Walker (8/31/2019 8:22:00 PM)

    The poet had a most disappointing encounter with racism. Yet that is all
    he remembers of Baltimore. Terrific poem.(Report)Reply

    5 person liked.
    6 person did not like.
  • Bree Z.Love (8/19/2019 8:59:00 AM)

    Thanks for the sharing of this poem. It was straight to the point and deliberate 💪(Report)Reply

    5 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Rossella BLUE Mocerino (4/29/2019 3:10:00 PM)

    I am an artist and I am going to exhibit at the Countee Cullen Library in Harlem with a show entitled " Dreams in a Silken Cloth" which comes from a Cullen's epitaph. Part of the programming will be a reading of Countee Cullen's poems. Readers invited for May 15 & May 29,2019 from 5: 30-6: 45 pm If you are interested in participating, you can reach me at mocerinony@gmail.com(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • jeff goldblum (2/22/2019 10:50:00 AM)

    I feel like this poem had to many " t" if you know what i mean(Report)Reply

    5 person liked.
    8 person did not like.
  • Sarah (2/11/2019 8:43:00 PM)

    That was a very powerful poem and we should have more of those around the world!(Report)Reply

    12 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Ruth K Verch (1/22/2019 11:00:00 PM)

    Great writing(Report)Reply

    11 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Paresh ChakraParesh Chakra (12/4/2018 10:54:00 AM)

    Now I was eight and very small,
    And he was no whit bigger,
    And so I smiled, but he poked out This stanga is very nice
    His tongue, and called me, 'Already ReportedReply

    4 person liked.
    12 person did not like.
  • coochie monster (10/25/2018 12:48:00 PM)

    spare coochie? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?Already ReportedReply

    22 person liked.
    17 person did not like.
  • Bruce A. Ladd (6/2/2018 1:42:00 PM)

    A powerful short poem!
    A friend mentioned it to me just the other night...(Report)Reply

    17 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • silly cucc boi (5/15/2018 7:32:00 PM)

    HELP! My slaves ran away and I can't find them!Already ReportedReply

    13 person liked.
    42 person did not like.
  • J Lucking (4/5/2018 4:19:00 PM)

    What a shock...
    It's a shame they let something so trivial wreck their vacation...Already ReportedReply

    25 person liked.
    24 person did not like.
  • Sid Kuljam (3/16/2018 11:20:00 AM)

    I’m gay for Jason RendaAlready ReportedReply

    9 person liked.
    12 person did not like.
  • yahshhua (3/5/2018 4:23:00 PM)

    suck my
    suck my
    come to 3900 ap 23 p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p p pAlready ReportedReply

    9 person liked.
    16 person did not like.
  • ricky (2/15/2018 6:27:00 PM)

    in the poem incident how does the meter fit its subject matter?(Report)Reply

    6 person liked.
    12 person did not like.
  • piet thabiso seloba (12/18/2017 4:31:00 AM)

    is bieng hard to u neh(Report)Reply

    6 person liked.
    8 person did not like.
  • DR MARYANN WIMSATT (12/5/2017 4:26:00 PM)

    I read this harrowing poem years ago, in a slightly different version. It's a devastating work; I'm glad that people have responded to it as they have!(Report)Reply

    8 person liked.
    6 person did not like.
  • Cookiie Pants (11/1/2017 10:18:00 AM)

    Funny AF, I enjoyed hearing siri say the n word.(Report)Reply

    15 person liked.
    29 person did not like.
  • Jon Davidson (1/27/2017 12:27:00 AM)

    I remember reading this as a young boy in the South. It made me aware of how much damage words and racism can do to a small child. It also shows that a poem doesn't have to be dependent on fancy prose to be powerful.
    This could only have been based on real life.
    Now I live in Los Angeles, and young black boys and girls call each other nigger over and over as they wait to get on the metro, thinking they have somehow neutralized this dehumanizing slur. They haven't. Things haven't improved. Directing racism at anyone - including your own people - makes everything worse.(Report)Reply

    32 person liked.
    13 person did not like.
Read all 50 comments »

# 104 poem on top 500 Poems

Incident Score Card

User Rating:
3,5 / 5 (140 votes)49



Read this poem in other languages


1. Incident. ( fr ) 3/12/2015
2. Vorfall ( de ) 4/8/2016

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Read poems about / on: remember, heart, smile



Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003

Poem Edited: Thursday, October 27, 2011


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