Festus Claudius McKay (1889-1948), better known as Claude McKay, was a Jamaican-American writer and an important poet in the Harlem Renaissance which also included Langston Hughes. McKay was an atheist (‘a pagan’, as he himself puts it), but one who could enjoy the scent of the Easter lily though he cannot believe in the Easter story. This is what ‘The Easter Flower’ is about.
The Easter Flower
Far from this foreign Easter damp and chilly
My soul steals to a pear-shaped plot of ground,
Where gleamed the lilac-tinted Easter lily
Soft-scented in the air for yards around;
Alone, without a hint of guardian leaf!
Just like a fragile bell of silver rime,
It burst the tomb for freedom sweet and brief
In the young pregnant year at Eastertime;
And many thought it was a sacred sign,
And some called it the resurrection flower;
And I, a pagan, worshiped at its shrine,
Yielding my heart unto its perfumed power.
If you enjoyed Claude McKay’s ‘The Easter Flower’, you might also like this selection of poems about flowers.