Dubose Heyward's Poem Dusk

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Charleston writer DuBose Heyward is famous for his literary illustrations of Charleston, South Carolina. His poem “Dusk” is no exception. “Dusk” creates an iconic image of Charleston, captivating the emotion and aesthetic of one of the oldest cities in the South. Heyward describes how many people describe the physical beauty of Charleston and admire its gardens, flowers, and weather. He believes that these people do not truly know her beauty like he does because he knows her “tenderness, her courage, and her pity” (4), taking his experiences of Charleston farther than the physical realm. He states that he could never attribute her beauty to “her laughter, and her happy drifting hours” (10) because he has felt an emotional connection to …show more content…

While this may seem cliche, and his poetry is “largely dismissed as fragmentary and conventional” (Monroe), Heyward’s decision to personify the city helps the reader understand the level of complexity behind how the city has molded his life, building onto his thesis— the city is not just a place, but a force, a force capable of affecting him in ways that cannot be expressed in “wood and stone” (7). Although he explores aspects of Charleston that tourists do not address, he does not address the racial issues he studies so thoroughly in his famous novel, Porgy. Heyward’s decision to do neglect this darker side of Charleston may seem uncharacteristic of his “sensitivity to the rhythm’s of African-American life” (Monroe) but his reasoning becomes clearer when one considers his message. Choosing to include the injustice would create too much of a negative image of Charleston, not only distracting from the message of the poem, but also contradicting his thesis. Heyward writes the poem to describe how he experiences Charleston’s greatness in a different way and is able to look past “her dim old faded ways,” (9), which could be a possible reference to the systemic racism during Heyward’s

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