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Poem Analysis." a Negro Speaks of Rivers" and "A Black Man Talks ...

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Poem Analysis." a Negro Speaks of Rivers" and "A Black Man Talks of Reaping"

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David Peeters
Poem Analysis
Starting from the late 1700’s until the mid 1900’s was a difficult time for the African American community. People were dying for no specific reason, there were no jobs’ and the life conditions were very harsh. The Analyzing of two different poems A Black Man Talks of Reaping by Arna Bontemps and A Negro Speaks of Rivers by Langston Hughes helps us better understand the difficulties in Harlem during the 19th century. The comparison of the similarities and differences between both creates a solid and experienced idea for the reader to understand. The fact that in one poem the author ‘speaks’ and the other one the author ‘talks’ can prove different experiences that these authors have lived trough. Both poems use specific examples and comparisons to give a global image of Harlem in the 1900’s.

Both Arna Bontemps and Langston Hughes are African Americans living in Harlem expressing their deepest feelings about Harlem and how their fellow African-American friends are being taken advantage of. Bontemps, in A Black Man Talks of Reaping, expresses all her thoughts more towards a person; although, Hughes, in A Negro Speaks of Rivers, expresses his thoughts and feelings more towards the nation and its people. Arna “talks” which could represent shyness, cowardice, or scared to address the people in general thinking that she may be severely endangered. On the other hand, Hughes “speaks” because he wants the whole nation to hear and feel what he is feeling. He is not scared to express his thoughts. As well, “speaks” is more formal than “talks”. In A Negro Speaks of Rivers, the poem is more fluid and calm like a river where as in A Black Man Talks of Reaping, the language is stronger and more harsh. Arna focuses more on criticizing the white community where as Hughes speaks about general experience.

Another interesting comparison is the similarities and differences in both poets’ use of literary terms to help them insist on the idea or...

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