Cover image for "Harlem gallery", and other poems of Melvin B. Tolson
"Harlem gallery", and other poems of Melvin B. Tolson
Tolson, Melvin B., 1900-1966.
Publication Information:
Charlottesville : University Press of Virginia, 1999.
Physical Description:
xxviii, 473 pages ; 23 cm
Added Author:

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS3539.O334 A6 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



This volume brings together Melvin B. Tolson's three books of poetry - Rendezvouz with America, Libretto for the Republic of Liberia, and Harlem Gallery - as well as fugitive poems after 1944.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Admired by unlikely allies during his lifetime, Tolson (1898-1966) is due for reappraisal: this weighty book of all his mature poetry may be just what he needs. Tolson sought to depict African-American concerns in long poems modeled on T.S. Eliot and Hart Crane. His Libretto for the Republic of Liberia (not an opera libretto, but a book-length ode in eight parts) tries to do for that African nation what Crane's The Bridge did for the U.S. His longer, harder book-length Harlem Gallery (left unfinished at his death) records, in 24 intricate sections, the thoughts and symbolic deeds of a figure called the Curator, who meditates on art and history as he encounters symbolic personages, among them the outspoken Dr. Nkomo; "Hideho Heights,/ the vagabond bard of Lenox Avenue"; Guy Delaporte III, "symbol/ of Churchianity"; and John Laugart, the powerful creator of a painting called Black Bourgeoisie: "This castaway talent/ and I" (the Curator and Laugart) "were fated to be/ the Castor and Pollux of St. Elmo's fire/ on Harlem's Coalsack Way." Tolson alludes to everything from Bessie Smith to Sir Toby Belch, "the bulls of Bashan" and the Sicilian Vespers; his elaborate lineations announce at once the worth of high, complex art and the integrity of Black experience. If his baroque approach frequently seems overblown, the ambitions behind it remain impressive and moving. Tolson provided his own annotations to Libretto; Harlem Gallery's battalions of allusions have quite properly prompted editor Nelson to add brigades of endnotes. This volume also includes Tolson's more conventional first book, Rendezvous with America (1944), and several shorter uncollected poems. Former Poet Laureate Dove's introduction furnishes useful hints for reading Tolson, linking him to other Black writers. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Rita DoveRaymond Nelson
Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Introductionp. xi
Editorial Statementp. xxvii
Rendezvous with Americap. 1
Rendezvous with Americap. 3
Woodcuts for Americanap. 13
The Mountain Climberp. 15
Old Man Michaelp. 16
When Great Dogs Fightp. 17
My Soul and Ip. 18
An Ex-Judge at the Barp. 19
Whence?p. 21
The Town Fathersp. 22
The Furloughp. 23
The Man Insidep. 25
Old Housesp. 26
The Poetp. 28
Esperantop. 30
Viewsp. 32
The Unknown Soldierp. 33
Dark Symphonyp. 35
1 Allegro Moderatop. 37
2 Lento Gravep. 37
3 Andante Sostenutop. 38
4 Tempo Primop. 39
5 Larghettop. 40
6 Tempo di Marciap. 41
A Song for Myselfp. 43
A Song for Myselfp. 45
The Shift of Gearsp. 52
The Ballad of the Rattlesnakep. 53
A Scholar Looks at an Oakp. 56
Sonnetsp. 57
A Primer for Todayp. 59
The Gallowsp. 60
The Blindness of Scornp. 61
If You Should Lie to Mep. 62
A Hamlet Rives Usp. 63
The Traitor to Francep. 64
A Legend of Versaillesp. 65
The Notep. 66
Inevitabilityp. 67
The Braggartp. 68
The Big Game Hunterp. 69
The Dictionary of the Wolfp. 70
Of Men and Citiesp. 71
Vesuviusp. 73
The Shipwrightp. 80
The Triumph Asterp. 81
The Bard of Addis Ababap. 83
Damascus Bladep. 88
The Street Called Straightp. 90
Babylonp. 92
The Idols of the Tribep. 95
The Idols of the Tribep. 97
Tapestries of Timep. 105
Tapestries of Timep. 107
Fugitive Poemsp. 123
African Chinap. 125
A Long Head to a Round Headp. 129
The Man from Halicarnassusp. 131
E. and O. E.p. 134
Notes to "E. and O. E."p. 147
Abraham Lincoln of Rock Spring Farmp. 150
Libretto for the Republic of Liberiap. 157
Dop. 159
Rep. 161
Mip. 162
Fap. 163
Solp. 164
Lap. 168
Tip. 169
Dop. 178
Notes to Libretto for the Republic of Liberiap. 189
Harlem Gallery: Book I, The Curatorp. 207
Alphap. 209
Betap. 211
Gammap. 216
Deltap. 219
Epsilonp. 224
Zetap. 227
Etap. 233
Thetap. 244
Iotap. 247
Kappap. 254
Lambdap. 258
Mup. 261
Nup. 267
Xip. 269
Omicronp. 283
Pip. 288
Rhop. 293
Sigmap. 296
Taup. 301
Upsilonp. 302
Phip. 323
Chip. 335
Psip. 342
Omegap. 355
Notes and Commentary to Harlem Galleryp. 365
The Published Works of Melvin B. Tolsonp. 471