Thursday, November 14, 2019

Claude McKays If We Must Die Essay -- essays research papers fc

Claude McKay's If We Must Die One of the most influential writers of the Harlem Renaissance was Jamaican born Claude McKay, who was a political activist, a novelist, an essayist and a poet. Claude McKay was aware of how to keep his name consistently in mainstream culture by writing for that audience. Although in McKay’s arsenal he possessed powerful poems. The book that included such revolutionary poetry is Harlem Shadows. His 1922 book of poems, Harlem Shadows, Barros acknowledged that this poem was said by many to have inaugurated the Harlem Renaissance. Throughout McKay’s writing career he used a lot of dialect and African American vernacular in his writing, which was rather controversial at the time. Writing in dialect wasn’t considered proper for writing formal literature. For this paper I chose the poem â€Å"If We Must Die†, one of his strongest political poem included in Harlem Shadows. The subject matter that McKay writes about is confrontational. Even if McKay used classical poetry techniques to write â€Å"If We Must Die†. McKay used the poetry technique of the sonnet by using the 13 lines and 1 last line in the end. In â€Å"If We Must Die† McKay uses rhymes, and metaphors to associate and personify the poem. Using these techniques the audience can identify with the writer and the poem itself. The poem at first seems to have been written for a black audience but then it grew tremendously for a wider universal audience. This poem spoke to anyone and everyone who was being oppressed or in a situation that they weren’t in control of. This poem was for anyone who is or was put to death. This poem showed that everyone deserves a noble death, a death of honor and respect not to be beaten and treated like an animal but like a human being. â€Å"If We Must Die† was first published in the Liberator in 1919. Then in his compilation of poetry Harlem Shadows in 1922. Where already the world war had ended. It was one of the very first p oems that initiated the tone, subject and matter of the Harlem Renaissance. The poem is revolutionary, it’s the type of poem that makes people think and take action. He made the reader feel important and recognized the value of a human life. McKay believed part of the poets job is to politically inform the minds of people. Leading to the influence of such people as Amiri Baraka, starting the Black Arts Movement. The poem itself is a validation, r... ...Must Die† made the reader, a human being feel important. Instead of seeing yourself as lower than dirt, adapting the mind of the oppressed and not fighting back. We must not sit around while horrendous things happen in our society. If we want a change we have to do it ourselves. â€Å"Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back.† If We Must Die 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. 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! O kinsmen! we must meet the common foe! Though far outnumbered let us show us brave, And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow! What though before us lies the open grave? Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack, Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back! Bibliography WORKS CITED - Arno â€Å"A long way home†[1937] New York Times 1969 - Barros, Paul De â€Å"The Loud Music Of life’: Representations of Jazz In the Novels of Claude McKay.† Antioch Review, Summer 1999. - Claude McKay (1890-1948) March 26, 2000

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