Helene Johnson

Topics: Black people, Madrid Metro, Metropolitana di Napoli Pages: 4 (598 words) Published: September 19, 2010
Sharon Goldman
Hum 312 9:30

“Sonnet To A Negro In Harlem”
Helene Johnson

Helene Johnsons is the speaker in this sonnet and describes her subject in two

opposing views. The first line starts with You are disdainful and magnificent-- implying

that the negro race may be a bit disrespectful to their homeland by living this new life

possibly in a magnificent manner, clever in the way they have been able to adapt and fit in

to the new Harlem city life.

The writer is neither speaking of a man or woman, it seems she may actually be

speaking of a nation of people, specifically the negro race living in Harlem during a

certain era referenced in line 2, your perfect body and your pompous gate, “body” may be

the key to whom she is speaking of meaning a group.

Line 3, your dark eyes flashing solemnly with hate; the Negro race still feels

hatred toward their oppressor but tries hard to cover up those feelings although the hate is

still seen in the eyes of the people.

Lines 4 and 5, small wonder that you are incompetent to imitate those whom you

so despise-- the negro race is only incompetent in this new land, black people now live in

an era where they are forced to act differently by fitting in with the white race, which are

the people who put them in this position initially. The negro race is now surviving this

new lifestyle and have to compromise their way of life.

Line 6, your shoulders towering high above the throng, maybe with such a heavy

load to bear the Negro race walks with their shoulders high in the midst of everyone, not wanting to expose the burden on life in Harlem. The true feelings are too much to handle,

its easier to walk with your head up and pretend that everything is fine.

Line 7, your head thrown back in rich barbaric song may be reference to a native

land, “barbaric song”, a language once spoken in a different...
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