Countee Cullen

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

Uncle Jim - Poem by Countee Cullen

“White folks is white,” says uncle Jim;
“A platitude,” I sneer;
And then I tell him so is milk,
And the froth upon his beer.

His heart walled up with bitterness,
He smokes his pungent pipe,
And nods at me as if to say,
“Young fool, you’ll soon be ripe!”

I have a friend who eats his heart
Always with grief of mine,
Who drinks my joy as tipplers drain
Deep goblets filled with wine.

I wonder why here at his side,
Face-in-the-grass with him,
My mind should stray the Grecian urn
To muse on uncle Jim.


Comments about Uncle Jim by Countee Cullen

  • Rajnish Manga (9/9/2017 11:06:00 PM)


    Fantastic poem which is sweet, thought provoking and satiric. This goes into MyPoemList now. Thanks.
    He smokes his pungent pipe,
    And nods at me as if to say,
    “Young fool, you’ll soon be ripe! ”
    (Report) Reply

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  • Geeta Radhakrishna Menon (9/9/2017 9:36:00 PM)


    I have a friend who eats his heart
    Always with grief of mine,
    Who drinks my joy as tipplers drain
    Deep goblets filled with wine.

    A verse that deserves high rating.
    Beautifully done. Congratulations!
    (Report) Reply

  • Kumarmani Mahakul (9/9/2017 4:52:00 PM)


    Interesting writing. Beautiful poem. Thanks and congratulation to his soul for being selected as poem of the day. (Report) Reply

  • Subhas Chandra Chakra (9/9/2017 4:36:00 AM)


    I have a friend who eats his heart
    Always with grief of mine,
    Who drinks my joy as tipplers drain
    Deep goblets filled with wine.
    Nice write.
    10+
    (Report) Reply

  • Edward Kofi Louis (9/9/2017 1:13:00 AM)


    With bitterness! ! Thanks for sharing this poem with us. (Report) Reply

  • Lantz Pierre (9/9/2017 1:12:00 AM)


    Powerful. As poignant today as when it was written. Which partly is praise for the power of the poem and partly condemnation of how little race relations have changed in the interim. Or at least how much more they need to change. The ambiguity of the last stanza is mesmerizing for me. Beguiling. The reference clearly to Keats's Ode on a Grecian Urn. But are the figures on the urn he and the one he lies on the grass with, or he and his uncle? The implication of each turns the poem hard in very different directions. I think that ambiguity is very purposeful, reflecting and even creating so many of the other turns in the poem. From the concrete moment to musings of memory. The perceptions of color and race. Of love and of the irritations that love can engender. Very rich. Delicious. But with a bitter edge. (Report) Reply

  • Bernard F. Asuncion (9/9/2017 12:32:00 AM)


    Such an interesting poem posted and shared..... (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Monday, March 29, 2010



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