Friday, April 29, 2011

Pauli Murray (Returning Spring) Poetry - Black Poetry Post #18

Pauli Murray's poem, "Returning Spring," was highlighted in the Black poetry series for National Poetry Month 2010.
See a video featuring Rev. Pauli Murray from the TV series, "On the Road," hosted by Charles Kuralt, 1985

"I believe in reconciling the  descendants of all the slaves and the slave owners of the South.  And, by now, the genes have recirculated so, that I suspect if you put all of the people of the United States end to end according to true line blood relationship, we would all be in a long line,  all of us.
This is the fascinating thing about the South. Black, white and red are related by blood, and by culture, and by history, and by common suffering.
And so what I am saying is, ' Look, let's level with one another. Let's admit we are related, and let's get on with the business of healing these wounds--and we're not going to heal them till we face the truth.'"   
Pauli Murray, On the Road TV series, 1985

Song In A Weary Throat 
Born in Baltimore in 1910, and raised in Durham, North Carolina, Pauli Murray was a lawyer, civil rights activist, feminist and human rights advocate. She graduated from Hunter College in 1933 but was denied entrance to the University of North Carolina (UNC) in 1938, more than a decade before the campaign that successfully led Floyd McKissick to become the first African American admitted to UNC.  
Pauli Murray later graduated from Howard University Law School (1944), took her Masters of Law degree at the University of California, Berkeley, and earned a Doctor of Juridical Science degree at Yale University Law School, the first Afrrican American woman to do so.
Murray wrote various texts about race and equality: her noted poem on race is "Dark Testament," written about 1943, and her book, States' Laws on Race and Culture (1950) was praised by Thurgood Marshall as "the Bible for civil rights lawyers."
In 1977, Pauli Murray became the first African American woman to be ordained as an Episcopal priest. She died in 1985. In 1987 her autobiography, Song in a Weary Throat: An American Pilgrimage, was published posthumously. Series: 30 Ways of Looking at Black Poetry

Returning Spring by Pauli Murray

I’ll sink my roots far down
And drink from hidden rivers,
Renew my kinship with growing things—
The little ants will hold their congresses
Upon my arm, and cautious insects
Will make brief tours across my brows
And spiders spin webs from toe to toe.

The spears of sun will prick
No blade of grass to wakefulness
But I shall feel it tremble,
No further straw be laid upon a nest,
No twig but I shall see it quiver.

I’ll hear the symphonies within a stone,
Catch every murmur of the ground,
Travel the heavens with each vagrant cloud
And ark the golden islands in the sky.

“Returning Spring” by Pauli Murray in The Garden Thrives, edited by Clarence Major,
Pauli Murray, “Returning Spring” in Dark Testament, 1970.

   * Includes a video featuring Pauli Murray, from TV series "On the Road" host, Charles Kuralt, 1985

This post was updated on April 18, 2011 at 12:09 pm


  1. Nice poem .... Pauli Murray is one of my favorite poets

  2. Her work has not been given deserving attention.