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Listen to the poem in Spanish
Spring in New Hampshire Too green the springing April grass, Too blue the silver-speckled sky, For me to linger here, alas, While happy winds go laughing by, Wasting the golden hours indoors, Washing windows and scrubbing floors. Too wonderful the April night, Too faintly sweet the first May flowers, The stars too gloriously bright, For me to spend the evening hours, When fields are fresh and streams are leaping, Wearied, exhausted, dully sleeping.
La Primavera en New Hampshire Demasiado verde la naciente hierba primaveral de abril, Demasiado azul el cielo, punteado de plata Para demorarme aquí, pobre de mí, Mientras vientos alegres pasan riendo, Y yo pierdo las horas doradas adentro, Lavando ventanas y fregando pisos. Demasiado maravillosa la noche de abril, Demasiado dulce el ligero olor de las primeras flores de mayo, Las estrellas demasiado brillantes y gloriosas Para yo pasar las horas del crepúsculo, Cuando los campos están frescos y los arroyos saltan, Fatigado, agotado, durmiendo apenas. Translation into Spanish by Linda Murphy Marshall
About the Poem
The poem contrasts the beauty of spring with the drudgery of a laborer who is unable to appreciate it during the daytime. When the work is finshed, the poet tells us, the worker is too tired to enjoy the evening as well. As an immigrant from Jamaica, McKay may have been empathizing with his fellow immigrants, who were often only offered employment as manual laborers.
Claude McKay was born in Jamaica on September 15, 1889. His first book of poems was Songs of Jamaica, published in 1912. He wrote about black life in Jamaica in dialect. That same year, he traveled to the United States to attend Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. He stayed there only a few months. He went on to Kansas State University to study agriculture.
He published two sonnets in 1917: “The Harlem Dancer” and “Invocation.” He used the sonnet form to write about social and political concerns from the point of view of a black man in the United States.
McKay traveled to Russia and then to France in the 20s. In France, he met Edna St. Vincent Millay and Sinclair Lewis. In 1934, McKay returned to the United States and lived in Harlem, New York.
McKay’s political opinions and poetic achievements inspired the writers of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s. One of these younger poets was Langston Hughes.
McKay died on May 22, 1948. See other poems by McKay here.
Foundation, Poetry. “Claude McKay.” Poetry Foundation, 12 Mar. 2023, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/claude-mckay.
“[African American Workers Doing Laundry at the Bureau of Engraving & Printing].” Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA, https://www.loc.gov/resource/cph.3c37137/. Accessed 18 Mar. 2023.