African American Poetry Essay Research Paper African

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African American Poetry Essay, Research Paper African American PoetryThe theme I chose for the anthology is African American poetry. I did not choose this topic to enhance my knowledge of other cultures or to deepen my understanding of other races or ethnicities. No, I cannot take credit for that. Rather, I chose this topic for the simple reason that it was different. I had gotten bored of reading poems by the same type of people in similar situations in life. So, I found poems written by poets from distinct backgrounds and a different different way of thinking and presenting ideas. For this reason I chose African American poetry. And what a pleasant surprise. Although the poetry may not be as well written as many of the poems we have read in class, these poems have something

that the others were lacking. These poems are emotionally powerful. The sheer emotion with which these poems were written jumps out at the reader, making the reading of the poems a very captivating experience. What is also wonderful about these poems is that the poets who wrote them were not scared to face the problems of their day head on. They did not avoid their problems by writing about flowers and rainbows. The poems talk about slavery, murder, familial problems, etc. They also face the issues in an emotional manner instead of reserved philosophical style making the poems extremely more personal and engaging. One can follow the path of the history of African Americans in America through these poems. Their passage from Africa to America is cleverly described in “Root

Song”, by Henry Dumas. Following this one can continue to trace their path to “The Slave Auction”, by Frances E. W. Harper. The fears of the slaves are seen in such poems as “Bury Me In a Free Land” or “Tomorrow”. We then see the rise of African American pride in “Still I Rise” and “Phenomenal Woman”, both by Maya Angelou. After these the poems discuss more private family problems in “Picture of a Man”. Some modern day racism also makes an impact in “The Test of Atlanta 1979-” and “Ballad of Birmingham”. Finally, the last poem describes America and its future from an outsiders point of view in “American Journal”, by Robert Hayden. Root SongThis poem is Almost an odd one for me to start out with because it doesn’t have that pure emotional

content that many of the others have. However, it was so skillfully written that I had to include it in the anthology. In this poem Dumas brilliantly uses the tree to represent the African American transition from Africa to America. By showing the difference in the way a tree was treated in Africa than in America, Dumas is showing the reader a total difference in life, philosophically as well as physically. Although, this poem treats the subject in a rather abstract way, Dumas still interjects a personal effect by making the poem a narrative by the tree. In this manner the reader is brought into the man-tree relationship by the constant use of the word “I”. Due to this the reader also feels for the tree when the humans change their treatment of the tree. It is also

interesting to note the constant reference to humans as “flesh”. This represents the superficial and materialistic people they have become. It is time for humans to return to the “spirits”, the exact opposite of the outer “flesh”. This represents the basic difference between the two countries and the path African Americans were forced to take. The Slave AuctionIn this poem, Harper does a wonderful job of portraying the agonies of the slave auction. He talks of the separation of mother and child and husband and wife. One sees the innocence of these people “whose sole crime was their hue, The impress of their Maker’s hand”. Harper then tries to put everything into terms we can understand, stating that”Ye who have laid your love to rest,And wept above their