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Harlem Renaissance

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Mr. Skocik

on 3 November 2015

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Transcript of Harlem Renaissance

Comparison of Poems
From the Dark Tower
Countee Cullen

We shall not always plant while others reap
The golden increment of bursting fruit,
Not always countenance, abject and mute,
That lesser men should hold their brothers cheap;
Not everlastingly while others sleep
Shall we beguile their limbs with mellow flute,
Not always bend to some more subtle brute;
We were not made to eternally weep.

The night whose sable breast relieves the stark,
White stars is no less lovely being dark,
And there are buds that cannot bloom at all
In light, but crumple, piteous, and fall;
So in the dark we hide the heart that bleeds,
And wait, and tend our agonizing seeds.
Comparison of Poems
A Black Man Talks of Reaping
Arna Bontemps

I have sown beside all waters in my day.
I planted deep, within my heart the fear
that wind or fowl would take the grain away.
I planted safe against this stark, lean year.

I scattered seed enough to plant the land
in rows from Canada to Mexico
but for my reaping only what the hand
can hold at once is all that I can show.

Yet what I sowed and what the orchard yields
my brother's sons are gathering stalk and root;
small wonder then my children glean in fields
they have not sown, and feed on bitter fruit.
Harlem Renaissance
The Harlem Renaissance took place between 1918-1937.
The Great Migration of millions of Southern black farmers and sharecroppers began in 1916 and continued throughout the 1920s
They were searching for opportunity and freedom from oppression & racial hostility.
Thousands settled in Harlem which became the cultural center of African American life.
Here, black men and women drew on their cultural resources-folk traditions and a new urban awareness-to produce unique forms of expression

Mainstream America was developing a new respect for African art & tradition.
Artists, writers, musicians, and performers were insisting through their works that "African Americans were a collaborator and participant in American civilization".
They addressed issues of race, class, religion, and gender not only within the black culture but also pertaining to those of different races.

Unfortunately, by the early 1930s, the Great Depression depleted the funds which provided the financial support for this period of artistic enlightenment prematurely ending the Harlem Renaissance.
Song of the Son

By Jean Toomer

Pour O pour that parting soul in song,
O pour it in the sawdust glow of night,
Into the velvet pine-smoke air tonight,
And let the valley carry it along.
And let the valley carry it along.

O land and soil, red soil and sweet-gum tree,
So scant of grass, so profligate of pines,
Now just before an epoch’s sun declines
Thy son, in time, I have returned to thee.
Thy son, I have in time returned to thee.

In time, for though the sun is setting on
A song-lit race of slaves, it has not set;
Though late, O soil, it is not too late yet
To catch thy plaintive soul, leaving, soon gone,
Leaving, to catch thy plaintive soul soon gone.

O Negro slaves, dark purple ripened plums,
Squeezed, and bursting in the pine-wood air,
Passing, before they stripped the old tree bare
One plum was saved for me, one seed becomes

An everlasting song, a singing tree,
Caroling softly souls of slavery,
What they were, and what they are to me,
Caroling softly souls of slavery.
Orange Textbook Packet
L 1-5
What aspects of the first stanza reflect the fact that the poem is called a "song"?
L 9-10
How are lines 9 & 10 different? What is the impact of the author's choice?
L 16-23
Find the metaphor & explain its meaning
L 1-8
What problem is presented in the octave?
L 9-14
How does the sestet resolve the problem introduced by the octave?
Sonnet - 14 line lyric poem, commonly written in iambic pentameter

Petrarchan Sonnet - named after the Italian poet Petrarch, consists of two parts
Octave - first 8 lines, usually presents a problem or topic
Sestet - last 6 lines, usually resolves or comments on the problem or topic
Elizabethan (Shakespearean) Sonnet
The Elizabethan sonnet is divided into three four-line stanzas called quatrains, along with a final two-line couplet.
An Elizabethan poem usually saves its volta ( a shift that changes the poem's course and meaning) for the transition between the third stanza and the final couplet.
The suddenness of the volta at the end can make an Elizabethan sonnet seem more uneven than a Petrarchan one.
The rhyme scheme for an Elizabethan sonnet is: ABAB CDCD EFEF GG.
L 1-14
Compare Cullen's poem to "Song of the Son" by Toomer
L 1-8
What injustice is the metaphor of sowing & reaping discussing?
L 9-12
Compare what the speakers in "From the Dark Tower" & "A Black Man Talks of Reaping" say about who will reap the benefit of the seeds sown.
A Comparison of Theme
Comparison of Poems
While all three poems are from the same period, explore similar topics, and use comparable metaphors, each poem is unique in its tone, theme, and use of figurative language and imagery.
Work in pairs to to compare & contrast the poems using a Venn diagram.
Note any similarities and differences in topic, theme, & metaphor
Song of the Son
A Black Man Talks of Reaping
From the Dark Tower
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