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

  • (6/2/2018 1:42:00 PM)


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

    0 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • (5/15/2018 7:32:00 PM)


    HELP! My slaves ran away and I can't find them! (Report) Reply

  • (4/5/2018 4:19:00 PM)


    What a shock...
    It's a shame they let something so trivial wreck their vacation...
    (Report) Reply

  • (3/16/2018 11:20:00 AM)

    Report mid=5401985
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  • (3/5/2018 4:23:00 PM)

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  • (2/15/2018 6:27:00 PM)


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

  • (12/18/2017 4:31:00 AM)


    is bieng hard to u neh (Report) Reply

  • (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

  • (11/1/2017 10:18:00 AM)


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

  • (1/27/2017 12:27:00 AM)

    One of the most painful poems ever written
    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

  • Tom Allport (1/11/2017 10:18:00 AM)

    tom allport
    a sad poem saying how it was? is? when will we ever learn to love one another. (Report) Reply

  • (6/24/2016 10:47:00 PM)


    Words can leave worse marks then bullets, it strips away the humanity and leaves a dehumanized state.

    What I find more sad in this case, is how Cullen initiated contact in a friendly gesture in the most humane way only to be greeted by the inhumanity of a monster.

    If you think this still doesent happen look up youtube comments, the same monster exsits in this day and age.
    (Report) Reply

  • Khairul Ahsan (6/24/2016 10:31:00 PM)


    One small word had left such a big impact that the poet didn't remember any other word or incident after that, though he stayed in Baltimore for eight more months.
    A well narrated incident in well chosen verses.10/10.
    (Report) Reply

  • Rajnish Manga (6/24/2016 12:59:00 PM)


    Those who live in the city of Baltimore or thereabout can rightly be identified as racists, though, the poet did not call them so in the poem. The fact that he does not remember anything after so many years except the word 'Nigger' with which the local boy called him. Extremely shocking. (Report) Reply

  • Franba Ciscon Ampermou (6/24/2016 10:29:00 AM)


    Its shocked me, good writing to reflect a real things that still make us to think more. (Report) Reply

  • Edward Kofi Louis (6/24/2016 4:28:00 AM)


    Memory! ! Growing up; with the muse of your life. Thanks for sharing. (Report) Reply

  • (6/24/2016 1:59:00 AM)


    The emotional poem so heart felt. (Report) Reply

  • Amar Agarwala (4/8/2016 7:51:00 PM)


    Short and so stark... unimaginably penned down. Beautiful is all I can say! (Report) Reply

  • Susan Williams (4/8/2016 4:52:00 PM)


    He writes as if it didn't cut him deep- -but he remembered the incident for many a year and I think we tend to remember what hurts us for a lot longer time than what makes us feel happy. I think we all have memories of this sort- the ugly remarks, the contemptuous sneers, and most of the time we don't know why these people choose to be so cruel. (Report) Reply

    Khairul Ahsan (6/24/2016 10:26:00 PM)

    Well said, Susan! I appreciate your comment very much.

  • Barry Middleton (4/8/2016 8:27:00 AM)


    What a nasty Baltimorean. But Countee Cullen almost makes a joke of it. I think he remembered but take note he made the Baltimorean as small as an 8 year old. (Report) Reply

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# 122 poem on top 500 Poems

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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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