Working can be as effortless as singing the words to your favorite song but it’s not always that simple. Arna Bontemps’s “A Black Man Talks of Reaping” creates a searing picture of not reaping what you sowed by alluding to the times of slavery through metaphor, imagery and diction. While Paul Laurence Dunbar’s “A Negro Love Song” paints a delightful image of a man and woman in love with its trochaic rhythm. It shares the use of imagery and diction with “Reaping” but it also uses tone.
To begin with the theme of Bontemps’s “A Black Man Talks of Reaping” is not about reaping what you have sowed. This is seen in the first stanza of the poem when Bontemps uses metaphor to create a bone chilling effect on the reader. This is shown in lines two through three when he writes “I planted deep, within my heart the fear – that wind or fowl would take the grain away”. He is comparing farming to the times of slavery times when he mentions “wind or fowl”, in farming the wind or a bird of some kind can easily take what you have planted with it; during slavery the slave owners easily took away what the slaves had planted and sold it for their benefit. Hence, not allowed to reap from what you have sown. Imagery is used to create a harrowing effect on the reader. It appears in lines five through eight when Bontemps writes ”Scattered seed enough to plant the land – in rows from Canada to Mexico – but for my reaping only what the hand can hold at once is all that I can show”. In reading theses lines you get the grim mental image of a man planting rows and rows of seeds, just as the slaves did, but only being allowed to own what he could hold in his hand. It really emphasizes the theme because most of what he has planted has been taken away by something or someone and he barely has anything to show for his hard labor and the same thing happened with the slaves, when their owners left them with nothing to show for their hard work. He is saying for all of their hard work they had...
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