The Tropics in New York

The Tropics in New York

A immigrant is reminded of home in Claude McKay’s short poem.

Grades

3 - 12+

Subjects

English Language Arts, Geography

Image

Still Life

Still-life photograph of foods on a table.

Photograph by Paulette Tavormina, National Geographic

The Tropics in New Yorkby Claude McKay Bananas ripe and green, and ginger-root, Cocoa in pods and alligator pears,And tangerines and mangoes and grape fruit, Fit for the highest prize at parish fairs, Set in the window, bringing memories Of fruit-trees laden by low-singing rills,And dewy dawns, and mystical blue skies In benediction over nun-like hills. My eyes grew dim, and I could no more gaze; A wave of longing through my body swept,And, hungry for the old, familiar ways, I turned aside and bowed my head and wept. Discussion IdeasLearn about Claude McKay with our “Fast Facts,” and dig deeper into the poem with questions in the “Questions” tab. Questions for older students (questions 1-3) focus on the poem’s metaphors, while questions for younger readers (questions 4-5) focus on the emotions in the poem.

Fast Fact

Claude McKay was born in Jamaica in 1889. Today, he is the national poet of the island nation.

Fast Fact

Claude McKay moved to the United States to attend college. He went to the Tuskegee Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama, and Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, but did not graduate.

Fast Fact

Claude McKay moved to New York City, New York, where he quickly became one of the most important poets of the Harlem Renaissance. Sometimes called the “New Negro Movement,” the Harlem Renaissance was a movement focusing on African-American art and culture. Other artists associated with the Harlem Renaissance include the poet Langston Hughes, the dancer Josephine Baker, the novelist Zora Neale Hurston, the actor Paul Robeson, the musician Duke Ellington, and the painter Jacob Lawrence.

Fast Fact

Claude McKay became one of the most famous and influential members of the Harlem Renaissance. He traveled throughout Europe, and even lived in London, England, for several years.

Fast Fact

Claude McKay wrote powerfully about life in both Jamaica and the United States. He also wrote about the racism and prejudice he had to deal with. His most famous poem is probably “America,” which starts with these lines:“Although she feeds me the bread of bitterness,And sinks into my throat her tiger’s tooth,Stealing my breath of life, I will confessI love this cultured hell that tests my youth.”

Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Writer
National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
Editor
Melissa MacPhee, National Geographic Society,
Producer
National Geographic Society, National Geographic Society
other
Last Updated

May 20, 2022

For information on user permissions, please read our Terms of Service. If you have questions about licensing content on this page, please contact ngimagecollection@natgeo.com for more information and to obtain a license. If you have questions about how to cite anything on our website in your project or classroom presentation, please contact your teacher. She or he will best know the preferred format. When you reach out to him or her, you will need the page title, URL, and the date you accessed the resource.

Media

If a media asset is downloadable, a download button appears in the corner of the media viewer. If no button appears, you cannot download or save the media.

Text

Text on this page is printable and can be used according to our Terms of Service.

Interactives

Any interactives on this page can only be played while you are visiting our website. You cannot download interactives.

Related Resources