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Youth And Sexuality: Harlem Dancer By Claude Mckay

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Youth and Sexuality "Harlem Dancer" by Claude McKay written in 1922 during the Harlem Renaissance, a time-period where intellectual, social, and artistic expression reigned. During this time, Harlem was a booming metropolis for young black artists, activist, and people alike. His poem reflects the times, and how they affected the people around him. Claude McKay's poem, "Harlem Dancer", reveals and demonstrates not only the contrasts between youthful innocence and sexuality, but also how the two can coexist. In the first quatrain, the poem begins by denoting the sexuality within the poem. The words "prostitutes" and "half-clothed body" are inherently sexual. In contrast, the next two lines of the quatrain contain the words "flutes" and "picnic day" which are youthful, innocent, and light. Creating an entirely different image and feel from the first half of the quatrain. A simile appears in the third line, "Her voice was like the sounds of blended …show more content…

The second quatrain still has a light and airy tone of the first as opposed to the darker, heavier tone of the third. The second quatrain describes what the young dancer is wearing, "...light gauze hanging loose about her form". This line is describing the outside of the dancer, reinforcing the idea that she is something to look at. Adversely, a metaphor appears in the seventh and eighth lines of the poem, comparing the dancer to a swaying palm tree. The metaphor isn't sexual, but instead adds to the gentle and innocent persona McKay is giving the dancer. Much like in the second quatrain, the diction used in the third is used to reinforce the overall sexual tone of the poem. That the audience is comprised of youths entranced by sexual desires. This is illustrated by, "tossing coins in praise", and "eager, passionate gaze " showing that they are lusting after a woman, the Harlem dancer, whom they have

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