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By Robert Hayden

Lord’s lost Him His mockingbird,   

       His fancy warbler;

       Satan sweet-talked her,

       four bullets hushed her.

       Who would have thought

       she’d end that way?


Four bullets hushed her. And the world a-clang with evil.   

Who’s going to make old hardened sinner men tremble now   

and the righteous rock?         

Oh who and oh who will sing Jesus down

to help with struggling and doing without and being colored   

all through blue Monday?

Till way next Sunday?


       All those angels

       in their cretonne clouds and finery   

       the true believer saw

       when she rared back her head and sang,   

       all those angels are surely weeping.   

       Who would have thought

       she’d end that way?


Four holes in her heart. The gold works wrecked.   

But she looks so natural in her big bronze coffin   

among the Broken Hearts and Gates-Ajar,   

it’s as if any moment she’d lift her head

from its pillow of chill gardenias

and turn this quiet into shouting Sunday

and make folks forget what she did on Monday.


       Oh, Satan sweet-talked her,   

       and four bullets hushed her.   

       Lord’s lost Him His diva,   

       His fancy warbler’s gone.   

       Who would have thought,

       who would have thought she’d end that way?


Robert Hayden, "Mourning Poem for the Queen of Sunday" from The Collected Poems of Robert Hayden, edited by Frederick Glaysher. Copyright © 1966 by Robert Hayden. Reprinted by permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation.

Source: Collected Poems (Liveright Publishing Corporation, 1985)

Poet Bio

Born Asa Bundy Sheffey into a poor family, Robert Hayden’s parents left him to be raised by foster parents. Due to extreme nearsightedness, Hayden turned to books rather than sports in his childhood. Some of his best-known poems can be found in his collection A Ballad of Remembrance. Hayden was the first African American to be appointed as Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress.

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