Claude McKay wrote about acceptance and the wish for this to become the truth. In this poem, McKay wrote about his wish to be able to return to his home country.
About Claude McKay
Festus Claudius (“Claude”) McKay was born on September 15, 1889, in Clarendon Parish, Jamaica. He grew out to become one of the most influential figures in the Harlem Renaissance. He was a writer and a poet, responsible for three novels:
- Home to Harlem, 1928
- Banjo, 1929
- Banana Bottom, 1933
His work entitled Amiable With Big Teeth: A Novel of the Love Affair Between the Communists and the Poor Black Sheep of Harlem was, in fact, a manuscript. This remained unpublished until 2017. McKay wrote this manuscript in 1941.
McKay also published several poetry collections and collections of short stories. One of them, Harlem Shadows, was the first book to be published during the Harlem Renaissance.
One cannot help thinking about the early life of McKay when reading his poem I shall return. He was a believer of communism, though he denied being part of any communist movement. Later he realized that this wasn’t the political climate he wanted for the country he lived in or the country he wanted to return to (Jamaica).
In his poem, McKay tells us about affliction and the regret that he isn’t accepted. In this poem, he shows us that he wants to return home. His wanting isn’t enough, because he “shall return.” It’s all about remembering his home country and the wish to escape what he is in now.
I shall return
I shall return again; I shall return
To laugh and love and watch with wonder-eyes
At golden noon the forest fires burn,
Wafting their blue-black smoke to sapphire skies.
I shall return to loiter by the streams
That bathe the brown blades of the bending grasses,
And realize once more my thousand dreams
Of waters rushing down the mountain passes.
I shall return to hear the fiddle and fife
Of village dances, dear delicious tunes
That stir the hidden depths of native life,
Stray melodies of dim remembered runes.
I shall return, I shall return again,
To ease my mind of long, long years of pain.
— Claude McKay