Thursday, February 27, 2014

If We Must Die by Claude McKay

commentary no.6

IF WE MUST DIE is a very powerful piece. The feeling that resonates throughout the poem is the conflict between whites and blacks. Since the poem was written in 1919, it correlates with the race riots that occurred at that particular time in several cities throughout the United States.
The race riots were obviously white people attacking black neighborhoods, and so forth. Many blacks were murdered and the mass lynchings stretched from city to city. Another example that supports the race riot theory is the mention of “mad and hungry dogs” in line three. The usage of the phrase is appropriate, for history verifies that dogs were used to attack, subdue, frighten, and murder blacks.
It seems as if he wants to be killed in a kind manner, rather than being tortured and dying terribly, supported by lines one and five. He uses the phrase “if we must die” a couple of times, indicating that he doesn’t want to be killed horribly. For that reason, furious action must be taken and that action is to strike 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 accursèd 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 death-blow!
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!

Commentary no.5

This is a well written poem in which McKay uses the title The White House ironically. The title has no reference to the actual white house itself, but it change the whole symbolic meaning and intent of the poem, making it appear as if the burning ambition of the black malcontent was to enter white houses in general. In the Harlem Renaissance., McKay expresses his thorough discontent with the Unites States segregation. In this poem he specifically singles out American big-industry. The poet  denounced the racial hypocrisy of American white people during that time period.  McKay advocates behaving with poise and composure in the face of segregation and prejudice. He shows this mentality through the first line in the poem by telling the reader that his persona stands by the shut door with a “tightened face.” He shows disgust towards white-America’s hypocrisy, employs flame imagery, and promotes a very resilient image of the black man in Africa.

The White House

Your door is shut against my tightened face,
And I am sharp as steel with discontent;
But I possess the courage and the grace
To bear my anger proudly and unbent.
The pavement slabs burn loose beneath my feet,
And passion rends my vitals as I pass,
A chafing savage, down the decent street;
Where boldly shines your shuttered door of glass.
Oh, I must search for wisdom every hour,
Deep in my wrathful bosom sore and raw,
And find in it the superhuman power
To hold me to the letter of your law!
Oh, I must keep my heart inviolate
Against the potent poison of your hate.

            - Claude McKay

America by Claude McKay

Commentary no. 4

Off the top the poem "America" is a sonnet. It has three quadrants with a concluding couplet and a perfect rhyming scheme. McKay incorporates a mixture of personification with figurative language to paint a more diverse picture. If you take the first 4 lines, “Although she feeds me bread of bitterness, And sinks into my throat her tiger’s tooth, Stealing my breath of life, I will confess, I love this cultured hell that tests my youth,” you can see that these are all feelings from motherly characteristics. Not only does comparing America to a mother help the reader relate better to the speaker, but it shows what America is and how it appears.  The end of the poem closes, “Darkly I gaze into the days ahead”, “Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand.” the speaker exerts his passionate feelings both positively and negatively toward America. The 1920s were a time of excitement, but also a time of struggle. This poem clearly shows both sides during the Harlem Renaissance


Although she feeds me bread of bitterness,
And sinks into my throat her tiger's tooth,
Stealing my breath of life, I will confess
I love this cultured hell that tests my youth!
Her vigor flows like tides into my blood,
Giving me strength erect against her hate.
Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood.
Yet as a rebel fronts a king in state,
I stand within her walls with not a shred
Of terror, malice, not a word of jeer.
Darkly I gaze into the days ahead,
And see her might and granite wonders there,
Beneath the touch of Time's unerring hand,
Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand. 

                             - Claude McKay

commentary no. 3

     I also like this poem because of how it relates to me. It not only makes you view the World differently, it also has a deep impact on the reader. The poem switched the way people should think about changing someone else or something. The moral of the poem is not to change the World but improve yourself, it is more about self elevation.
     The authors speaks in second person as if they were giving the reader instructions. It also gives the reader a sense that the author is speaking directly to them. They also use the repetition of you, this grabs the reader attention and make them feel of relevance. I think it was in the authors best intentions to make sure that reader actual put their words into real life perspective and to change the readers thought. That is the true power of poetry.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

You Cannot Change

You cannot change the world,
But you can present the world with one improved person -

You can go to work on yourself to make yourself
Into the kind of person you admire and respect.
You can become a role model and set a standard for others.
You can control and discipline yourself to resist acting
Or speaking in a negative way
Toward anyone for any reason.
You can insist upon always doing things the loving way,
Rather than the hurtful way.
By doing these things each day,
You can continue on your journey
Toward becoming an exceptional human being.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

commentary no. 2

This is a great poem in which it actually relates to my current thoughts. I honestly believe everything happens for a reason and everyone has a purpose. In this poem the author is speaking about the deep inner self that no one really knows, this also goes back to the title. We are all searching for the true meaning of oneself and may hold in your true feeling an thoughts that we only adhere to. In time you will find the true aspect of your thoughts and forever holding back is not the way to go. Most people in life go through a struggle and if you hold back, all the pressure you have will boil over. In the author's case you should let it go and the memories will fade and you will find true meaning and fulfillment in oneself.
The author uses a good rhyme scheme that slows the reading of the reader. It also serves the purpose of creating periodic pauses in the reading. The author uses words like we and our as if they were talking about everyone as one being, but if you read the poem it is talking about the individual aspect of a persons mind and thoughts.

The Secrets We Hide

we struggle to have meaning
in this world which we all know
we try but yet we wonder
where we all should go
hidden in the questions
which we can not find
the answers are all hidden
deep inside our minds
hidden in our soul
is the life we try to hide
but in time it will find you
and it will release
all of its secrets hidden beneath
so before it ruins the life you have made
release those dark secrets
and the memories will fade
hidden in our lives are stories left untold
of the things we didn’t want them to know
but once you tell somebody
and make your feelings known
the struggle will be over
and you’ll finally be home

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Samuri Song video

commentary no. 1

This is the first time I actually had to write something about a poet.  I really like music and poetry that has a subliminal message in which I can relate to and put it into real life perspective. I felt like Samurai Song relates to me because of the real life perspective that Robert Pinsky puts it in. In my interpretation of the poem, I believe that he is talking about life and how he faces his challenges.  Everything happens for a reason and certain things are put into place to make you see something that you have never experienced before. The way you respond to it is what makes you a person and shows your character. This relates directly to the title, when you think of a samurai you think of a person that will rise to any challenge no matter how slim the chances are.  I really like this poem because it relates to my thinking process and the way I respond to certain situations. Life is about growth and experiences and more of not where you've been or where you are going, but how you are actually living. It also shows connection with your inner being and your mindset. I think Pinsky is telling the readers that life is solely based on what you make out of it and you are your own mind and you have the power to use it. This poems gives a sense of fulfillment and enlightenment, it is also very optimistic which gives the reader a sense of freedom to make their own choices and determine the outcome of their lives.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Samurai Song

When I had no roof I made
Audacity my roof. When I had
No supper my eyes dined.

When I had no eyes I listened.
When I had no ears I thought.
When I had no thought I waited.

When I had no father I made
Care my father. When I had
No mother I embraced order.

When I had no friend I made
Quiet my friend. When I had no
Enemy I opposed my body.

When I had no temple I made
My voice my temple. I have
No priest, my tongue is my choir.

When I have no means fortune
Is my means. When I have
Nothing, death will be my fortune.

Need is my tactic, detachment
Is my strategy. When I had
No lover I courted my sleep.