Etheridge Knight

(1931 - 1991 / Mississippi)

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A Poem For Myself


I was born in Mississippi;
I walked barefooted thru the mud.
Born black in Mississippi,
Walked barefooted thru the mud.
But, when I reached the age of twelve
I left that place for good.
My daddy chopped cotton
And he drank his liquor straight.
Said my daddy chopped cotton
And he drank his liquor straight.
When I left that Sunday morning
He was leaning on the barnyard gate.
Left my mama standing
With the sun shining in her eyes.
Left her standing in the yard
With the sun shining in her eyes.
And I headed North
As straight as the Wild Goose Flies,
I been to Detroit & Chicago
Been to New York city too.
I been to Detroit & Chicago
Been to New York city too.
Said I done strolled all those funky avenues
I'm still the same old black boy with the same old blues.
Going back to Mississippi
This time to stay for good
Going back to Mississippi
This time to stay for good-
Gonna be free in Mississippi
Or dead in the Mississippi mud.

Submitted: Saturday, July 19, 2003
Edited: Monday, March 01, 2010

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  • Michelle Claus (5/4/2014 10:05:00 PM)

    When the thoughts are first introduced, it sounds like the poet is telling us, the readers. When the thoughts are repeated, it sounds like the poet is telling himself - like he needs to plant his rock-solid realities in his mind and make peace with them. This would align with the poem's title, A Poem for Myself. It works well. (Report) Reply

  • Savita Tyagi (5/3/2014 6:12:00 AM)

    Home always calls us back. It stays same in our memory even when every thing there has changed with time. Touched by this simple poem. (Report) Reply

  • Krishnakumar Chandrasekar Nair (11/1/2013 9:29:00 AM)

    Blessed the Mississippi muddy track
    That such a poet was born there
    It matters not if it be white, brown or black
    But this is true poetry just raw and bare

    Excellent poem with an earthy feel. Welcome to all ye poets who are reading this to my page. (Report) Reply

  • Besa Dede (5/3/2013 9:46:00 PM)

    Beautiful poem about expressing his feelings for his hometown. It is true there is no place like home!
    I like the way the author emphasizes his thoughts by repeating the stanzas. (Report) Reply

  • Karen Sinclair (7/9/2012 5:09:00 AM)

    loved this piece...seems songlike but that made me sing through the words....there is a wonderful balance of joy honesty and pain.. great how it went full circle from the mud in mississippi.tyvm...karen (Report) Reply

  • Egal Bohen (2/11/2006 6:41:00 PM)

    I like this one a lot - probably because Mississippi is a magic word for me, show me that stream called the river Jordan.........
    Thanks
    Egal... (Report) Reply

Read all 14 comments »

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