The Congo Interpretation

Topics: United States, Langston Hughes, Dead Poets Society Pages: 2 (459 words) Published: October 9, 2010
I know this poem from “Dead Poets Society”, which you might love or hate. I, too, have a love/hate relationship with the movie, but my love side teaches it often because Peter Weir did so many great things with cameras and the symbolism is priceless. But, I suggest Wikipedia as the best source about Lindsay and this poem, which you can find here. The following is a bit about this poem and possible racism. “The Congo”, Lindsay’s best-known poem, became controversial both for its groundbreaking use of sound and for the issues of racism it raises. Novel use of sound

Whirl ye the deadly voo-doo rattle,
Harry the uplands,
Steal all the cattle,
Rattle-rattle, rattle-rattle,
Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, Boom…
“The Congo” expressed a revolutionary aesthetic of sound for sound’s sake. It imitates the pounding of the drums in the rhythms and the exemplification of drumming onomatopoeia. At parts, the poem ceases to use conventional words when representing the chants of Congo’s indigenous people, relying just on sound alone. The measured mix of sounds and rhythm laid the foundations for sound poetry later in the century.[citation needed] Alleged racist themes

Lindsay’s view of the Congo can potentially upset modern sensibilities. Many of Lindsay’s contemporaries, such as W. E. B. Du Bois among others, criticized “The Congo” for the stereotypes it raised. However, after reading Lindsay’s story “The Golden-Faced People” which had been published in an earlier issue of The Crisis Du Bois himself hailed Lindsay for his insight into the injustice of racism. It is ignorant to connect the poem The Congo to the racism prevalent in the United States of America at the turn of the 20th century, a racism pervasive even among those who — at least by the standards of the time — saw themselves as opposed to racism. “The Congo” was inspired by a sermon preached in October 1913 that detailed the drowning of a missionary in the Congo river, an event that captured world wide...
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