A metaphorical reading of Abe Meeropol’s ‘Strange Fruit’
Meeropol’s poem, ‘Strange Fruit’, has different metaphorical readings within. Different readings of the poem present these different metaphors. The central metaphor, from the “root” of the poem, I believe is the ‘absurdity of the lynching’ of the African Americans in the southern states. This poem employs imagery of the brutality of the lynching; not only that, we get the sense of the smell of the south, “magnolia sweet and fresh”. Magnolia was the symbol of the south; of pure, sweet and white. Meeropol wants to connect with the reader, to visualise these horrific events which is why we can see and smell just what it was like to witness the repugnant tortures of people, just like any other person in America, simply because of their race. Abe Meeropol was a member or the ‘American Communist Party’. After seeing an image of the lynching of Thomas Shipp and Abrim Smith, Meeropol was deeply disturbed. He explained how it “haunted me for days”, which inspired him into writing the poem. It is interesting how Meeropol decided to associate the black people, who were lynched, as being “strange fruit” that were “hanging from the poplar trees”. These people hanging from the trees are simply swaying, lifeless, and almost motionless if it wasn’t for the “Southern breeze” “swinging” them. They are “strange” because it isn’t the usual fruit anybody should ever witness swaying from the trees. It is demonic. This metaphor is firmly confirmed in the third line where Meeropol explains how the body is a “Black body”; from 1865 to 1965, over two thousand four hundred African Americans were lynched in the United States. 1964 was the year that the Civil Rights Act was passed, however, lynching continued in the Deep South. It is apparent that the author’s intentions are to make the reader understand how malicious and dreadful the lynching is; by the simple comparison to “strange fruit”, that is left there to “rot”....
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