Better Blackness

January 1, 2014

“The Second Sermon on the Warpland” by Gwendolyn Brooks

A perfect poem for any New Year’s Day and for all who count themselves among “the last of the loud.”



This is the urgency:  Live!

and have your blooming in the noise of the whirlwind.


Salve salvage in the spin.

Endorse the splendor splashes;

stylize the flawed utility;

prop a malign or failing light–

but know the whirlwind is our commonwealth.

Not the easy man, who rides above them all,

not the jumbo brigand,

not the pet bird of poets, that sweetest sonnet,

shall straddle the whirlwind.

Nevertheless, live.


All about are the cold places,

all about are the pushmen and jeopardy, theft–

all about are the stormers and scramblers, but

what must our Season be, which starts from Fear?

Live and go out.

Define and

medicate the whirlwind.


The time

cracks into furious flower.  Lifts its face

all unashamed.  And sways in wicked grace.

Whose half-black hands assemble oranges

is tom-tom hearted

(goes in bearing oranges and boom).

And there are bells for orphans–

and red and shriek and sheen.

A garbageman is dignified

as any diplomat.

Big Bessie’s feet hurt like nobody’s business,

but she stands–bigly–under the unruly scrutiny, stands in the wild weed.

In the wild weed

she is a citizen,

and is a moment of highest quality; admirable.

It is lonesome, yes.  For we are the last of the loud.

Nevertheless, live.

Conduct your blooming in the noise and whip of the whirlwind.

–Gwendolyn Brooks, from *In the Mecca*, 1968



  1. […] 2050’s summer intensive. This experience with creating in community with other artist helped her “furious flower” to bloom powerfully. Years later, as she was finishing her studies at Tulane University, her search […]

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  2. […] Sometimes, when I am feeling overwhelmed by a single large task, I try to clear away all of the little things. I clean the apartment, reply to emails I’ve been avoiding, run errands I’ve been putting off. I tell myself that if I just make the proper space, I will be able to turn my best attention to the thing that really matters. Inevitably, life swells to fill the space I’ve cleared, and what I pretended was necessary preparation is actually just elaborate procrastination. There will always be more cleaning, more emails, more errands. What I mean is: there will always be a reason not to try the thing that scares you with how much it matters. But you hold life at arm’s length forever. I hear in your letter that you want to dive in to yours headfirst. For you, a poem that helps me take that plunge—Gwendolyn Brooks’s “The Second Sermon on the Warpland”: […]

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  3. Reblogged this on Schatzkiste.

    Comment by jwxu — August 20, 2018 @ 5:00 pm | Reply

  4. […] recent fight to get Douglas Brooks out of the classroom). The long fight has burst once more into furious flower. We must all work to ensure that it bears […]

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  5. […] Read the entire poem here. […]

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  6. lotti

    “The Second Sermon on the Warpland” by Gwendolyn Brooks | Better Blackness

    Trackback by lotti — July 5, 2021 @ 1:56 am | Reply

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