Theme Of Pride In African American Poetry

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The Harlem Renaissance movement took place in 1920s New York City, because there were better opportunities found in the north. This was a time when Harlem became a cultural centre for African Americans. Artists from the African American community began expressing cultural pride and social frustration. Some of these artists include Countee Cullen, Claude McKay and Langston Hughes who became known as American Harlem Renaissance poets. Their use of poetic structure, theme, style and language contributes to the poets’ assumptions and beliefs.

Countee Cullen’s poem “Any Human to Another” describes the despair of African Americans. The poem uses irregular structure and rhyme scheme, Cullen also uses figurative language, personification, simile and symbolism. For example, “Let no man be so proud/ And confident,/ To think he is allowed/ A little tent/ Pitched in a meadow/ Of sun and shadow/ All his little own”. This shows symbolism for the word “tent” which represents isolation. From this quote, Cullen tries to convey that no person is isolated from the sorrow of others, in one way or another someone else’s suffering will have an affect on you. The poems underlying theme is sorrow- sorrow at the history of slavery, inequality and oppression. In the end, Cullen’s personal
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Hughes uses parallel structure, which creates rhythm with the phrases “I bathed/ I built/ I looked/ I heard”. Hughes uses imagery and symbolism through the use of “rivers” as a symbol for African American experiences throughout history, which provides a feeling of endlessness and strength. He shows positivity and pride in his culture: “My soul has grown deep like the rivers”. He uses this phrase twice in the poem to show that “soul” is the African American culture and “rivers” is the African American
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