Lesson Summary Claude McKay was a popular poet during the Harlem Renaissance. During his life in America, he wrote numerous pieces of literature from essays, short stories, poems, and more. The poem touches on a subject that everybody will have to face; death. He also write poetry of extraordinary lyrical quality and profound emotional depth with a precise eye toward details that brought his observations to life. As I mentioned, McKay wrote If We Must Die during the summer of 1919. The speaker of the poem is letting those fighting know that their deaths in this battle will be ones of honor. A poem inspired by violent race riots, it serves as a motivating anthem representative of an entire culture.
His literary heritage is multifaceted: vernacular poems glorifying peasant life in Jamaica, militant poems addressed to American white authority, honest stories. We must meet the common foe; Though far outnumbered, let us still be brave, And for their thousand blows deal one death-blow! The main theme I will choose to focus on is that abuse does not only happen at school or back alleys, but that it happens in homes as well. The narrator of the poem is preparing the group to die, but implying that they must die with honor and in a noble way. The historical setting of the poem becomes one of the major themes of If We Must Die. Throughout the poem, Mckay utilizes smile, imagery, and diction to strengthen the speech and to portray the enemy as savages. However, the white race wanted to listen to their music, mingle with the women, and enjoy the other finer luxuries that the black society could afford. However, he shows that the struggle may mean death.
Graphic and full of vengeance this poem is demanding action, not telling a story. We must meet the common foe; Though far outnumbered, let us show us brave, And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow! If we must die—oh, let us nobly die So that our precious blood may not be shed In vain; then even the monsters we defy Shall be constrained to honor us though dead! The poem is written in iambic pentameter; but the poet varies the iambic pattern by using trochaic, spondaic, and anapestic feet to underscore… Claude McKay was an influential leader of the Harlem Renaissance who also advocated against the racism that African-Americans receive. Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack, Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back! Mankiewicz 1511 Words 4 Pages Abc poem Flowers Lily is the purity of heart Mellow delicate beauty and sweetness Nasturtium represents a conquest or a victory in a battle Olive is so peaceful Poppy is inspiring and majestic. Selected Bibliography Poetry The Passion of Claude McKay : Selected Poetry and Prose Schocken Books, 1973 The Dialectic Poetry of Claude McKay Books for Libraries Press, 1972 Selected Poems Bookman Associates, 1953 Harlem Shadows Harcourt, Brace, 1922 Constab Ballads Watts, 1912 Songs of Jamaica Gardner, 1912 Prose The Negroes in America Associated Faculty Press, 1979 Harlem: Negro Metropolis Dutton, 1940 A Long Way from Home Furman, 1937 Letters My Green Hills of Jamaica Heinemann Educational Books, 1979 Trial By Lynching University of Mysore Press, 1977 Banana Bottom Harper, 1933 Gingertown Harper, 1932 Banjo: A Story Without a Plot Harper, 1929 Home to Harlem Harper, 1928 If we must die—let it not be like hogs Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot, While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs, Making their mock at our accursed lot. The poem is discussing a group of people who are going off to battle.
Claude McKay was a skilled poet who used many literary techniques to convey his deep-rooted messages in his poems. This would in turn force those who wish us dead to face our legacy after death. In so many cases African Americans have been treated less than human. If We Must Die By: Claude McKay If We Must Die, by Claude McKay is a sonnet written during the Harlem Renaissance period; a period where there was a flowering of African-American literature and art, 1919- mid 1930s. Theme is the idea or thought that stays in our minds when we think about the meaning of the work as a whole The Literary Heritage, p.
He represents the opponent as vicious dogs getting ready to hunt on their prey. The Morant Bay Rebellion of 1865 which produced reforms by the government of Jamaica is the focus of this poem and an exhibition of the sense of deep historical relevance that the past has on the present. The tone of A Lesson Before Dying has an educational feel to it, as well as being gradual. The Harlem Renaissance was a period of rebirth for the artists like McKay and their voices were finally heard as significant contributors to the intellectual community. But, what could have inspired such a poem of anger? Even If It's hard we have to give it our all and try our hardest until the end.
Text, Summary, and Analysis of 'If We Must Die' The poem If We Must Die reads: If we must die, let it not be like hogs Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot, While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs, Making their mock at our accursèd lot. McKay believed that change was in order and the black community needed to do something in order to make that change. Though not as rich in poetic symbolism as the poems by Emily Dickinson and George Herbert, McKay's poem evokes a stronger and more inspiring emotional reaction. He holds clear-cut and traditional views about glory, honor, and masculinity, which in this quatrain he mobilizes to show his allies the kind of death they should not have. For life is greater than the thousand wars Men wage for it in their insatiate lust, And will remain like the eternal stars, When all that shines to-day is drift and dust But I am bound with you in your mean graves, O black men, simple slaves of ruthless slaves. For McKay, Blacks must match their solidarity. Overall the tone sets off a motivational and inspiring mood.
Ramesh, Kotti Sree, Nirupa Rani. If we must die, O let us nobly die, So that our precious blood may not be shed In vain; then even the monsters we defy Shall be constrained to honor us though dead! America Perhaps McKay's most famous poem is titled America. Exhortation: Summer, 1919 Another poem partly inspired by the race riots and partly by the return of black servicemen from World War I amid hopes that patriotism would translate into opening new opportunities. The mulatto symbols the enforced introduction into a country not of its own choosing with the consequent rejection of that society when it tries to assimilate. It tears me apart inside to imagine how they must have felt knowing that their lives were going to be taken away, without a pure logical explanation as to why. In the view of an African American, the poem relates to acts of blatant racism.
At first glance to the reader, the poem seems to be about a last stand against the enemy; however, with further analysis, one can see that the persona is creating a legacy for future generations. America Although she feeds me bread of bitterness, And sinks into my throat her tiger's tooth, Stealing my breath of life, I will confess I love this cultured hell that tests my youth! While the men are all apparently doomed to die, the speaker does not complain or try to resist this fate. The book is a long reflection of Victor Hugo on the roles and duties of. The poem touched the hearts of many, even non-African Americans. McKay constructs the setting of soldiers in battle, but the circumstances and the creative mind of the reader informs that the fight is to free a displaced and enslaved nation. The poet shows that it is noble to die fighting against your enemy than to die doing nothing because after all we are bound to die someday whether we fight or not.
It is this code which allows for a moral struggle against those who debase themselves through acts of oppression. His poem If We Must Die encourages African Americans to stand up for themselves, both literally during the race riots of 1919 and figuratively by lending their voices to the Harlem Renaissance. Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack, Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back! One person famous for expressing his feelings during these times through his poems was Claude McKay. Black people, Child abuse, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings 1055 Words 4 Pages focuses on the two poets of the Harlem Renaissance — Claude McKay and James Weldon Johnson. McKay has presented the enemy as something evil or inhuman. Repetition and imagery are also crucial in explaining this message the narrator is presenting. When he discovers in the Court Gazette of 19 March 1832, the trial transcript of a certain Claude Gueux sentenced to death for murder, he discovers an echo of his plea against the death penalty and decides to write a novel.