Poet William Waring Carney’s, “No Images”

2 Posted by - April 15, 2020 - Black History, History, LATEST POSTS

“No Images”

She does not know
her beauty,
she thinks her brown body
has no glory.
If she could dance
under palm trees
and see her image in the river,
she would know.
But there are no palm trees
on the street,
and dish water gives back
no images.
-William Waring Cuney
William Waring Cuney was a poet of the Harlem Renaissance. He is best known for his poem “No Images,” which has been widely anthologized.

Cuney was one of a pair of twins born on May 6, 1906, in Washington D.C. His father, Norris Wright Cuney II, worked for the federal government. His mother, Madge Louise Baker, taught in the D.C. public school system. Cuney attended the D.C. public schools, graduating from Armstrong High School. He attended Howard University for a time before earning his B.A. at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. He also studied at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston and the Conservatory of Music in Rome.

n 1926, while Cuney was still a student at Lincoln University, his poem “No Images” won first prize in a competition sponsored by Opportunity magazine. The poem poignantly portrays a black woman’s internalization of European standards of beauty. It has been widely anthologized and is considered a minor classic of the New Negro Movement.

Cuney’s work was largely forgotten in the United States by the 1950s, it was translated into German and Dutch and developed a following in Europe. He published only two volumes of poetry in his lifetime: Puzzles, a limited edition published in the Netherlands in 1960, and Storefront Church, published in London in 1973. He died in New York City on June 30, 1976.






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