Saturday’s Child By Countee Cullen

Some are teethed on a silver spoon,
   With the stars strung for a rattle;
I cut my teeth as the black raccoon—
   For implements of battle.

Some are swaddled in silk and down,   
   And heralded by a star;
They swathed my limbs in a sackcloth gown   
   On a night that was black as tar.

For some, godfather and goddame   
   The opulent fairies be;
Dame Poverty gave me my name,   
   And Pain godfathered me.

For I was born on Saturday—
   “Bad time for planting a seed,”
Was all my father had to say,
   And, “One mouth more to feed.”

Death cut the strings that gave me life,
   And handed me to Sorrow,   
The only kind of middle wife
   My folks could beg or borrow.
Countee Cullen, “Saturday’s Child” from My Soul’s High Song: The Collected Writings of Countee Cullen. Copyrights held by the Amistad Research Center, Tulane University, administered by Thompson and Thompson, Brooklyn, NY.

Source: My Soul’s High Song: The Collected Writings of Countee Cullen (Anchor Books, 1991)

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