O black and unknown bards thesis

More by James Weldon Johnson
  1. Johnson and Dubois :: Comparative, Literary Analysis, African American L
  2. O Black And Unknown Bards by James Weldon Johnson: poem analysis
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  4. O Black and Unknown Bards: Paul Robeson

The actual creation of life, mentioned briefly in lines , is given much less attention than the structuring of the human body. This poem makes no explicit points about what conclusions its readers should draw from all of this, but ends abruptly with the traditional words for closing a sermon.

Johnson and Dubois :: Comparative, Literary Analysis, African American L

Every religion has a creation myth. If the principle function of religion is to explain mysteries to people who have not developed scientific explanations or who do not believe that the truth can be found by the scientific method, there could be no greater mystery to be explained than the creation of the universe—the origin of existence.

As history has progressed, we have come to rely more and more upon carbon dating and astrological data that support scientific theories about how the universe came into existence. At various times in history, religious beliefs have come into conflict with scientific accounts.

To this day, some Christian religions reject the theory that humans are a product of a chain of evolution that traces back to single-celled organisms, noting that it contradicts the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament of the Bible, which is retold in this poem. It is therefore symbolic. Gods are frequently anthropomorphized in stories, particularly stories that are meant to explain their behavior. Gods frequently are talked about as having motives that humans have, such as jealousy, disappointment, or pleasure.

Greek mythology , for example, offers a long, intertwined story of gods acting the way humans do. Even religions that worship animals as gods often explain their behavior in terms of what human beings would do. This connection between rivers and freedom was not just in the American south: for example, in the Book of Exodus the infant Moses is placed in the river as a slave and comes out a free man. In this, we can see the benefit of such a story on an oppressed people: God, the story says, is one of us.

With all of His power, this poem tells its listener or reader, God is someone with your concerns. If the poem is read aloud, it sounds like a spirited sermon being recited in a church. Johnson achieves this quality by the way he constructs the lines of the poem. Like a skilled public speaker, he repeats certain words over and over.

The rhythm of the poem is also enhanced by the fact that Johnson arranges almost every line in the same way.

First he presents the subject of the line, usually God, then he tells what the subject does. When repeated over and over, this construction, or syntax, makes an almost hypnotic sound and a type of rhythm, or beat, is created.

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Often, poetry creates its rhythms by arranging stressed syllables in a regular pattern and by making the lines of the poem a certain length. Johnson avoids this approach but creates rhythm through his careful use of syntax. This approach is also used in many books of the Holy Bible. When it was pushed out of the mainstream as slavery became more defensive in the early s, and as segregation of races became more strict, the religious fervor of the preacher gave birth to Negro spiritual songs. The Negro preachers were among the most moving and popular orators of their day, known not only for being skilled and lively speakers, but also for their intelligence, which gave them the ability to speak of old familiar stories with verbal precision without reading from texts.

They could appear to improvise as they went along, in the same way that the improvisations of jazz or rap music are possible only with extensive preparation, wit, and background knowledge. The black preacher became a comic figure: shouting threats about hellfire, repeating and rhyming, and using long, flowery phrases or complex jargon where a simple expression would suffice. By the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the idea that Negro folk arts actually did have legitimacy and merit caught on among white intellectuals.

Still, the years that the races had been separated from each other by both law and prejudice had made African-American dialect develop separately from the English that was considered to be the standard. Well-intentioned authors, both black and white, tried to capture the sound of black English on paper by writing in dialect. Artists using dialect to portray the sorry conditions of Negroes had created as much of a stereotypical reaction in readers as minstrel shows had, so that one thought upon seeing dialect that the character must be either forlorn or goofy.

The Sound and the Fury. Brent Goodman is a freelance writer and has taught at Purdue University and mentored students in poetry. In the following essay, Goodman suggests that retelling the creation story from an African-American point of view was a way of reaffirming the value, place, and importance of the black race in American society at a time in which discrimination was overt. During the Harlem Renaissance at the beginning of this century, Black Americans challenged the perception and condition of their people for the first time in American history.

During this period, James Weldon Johnson established himself as a respected spokesman for Blacks, as well as a noted diplomat, novelist, lawyer, editor, songwriter and poet. In a time when a whole race of people in America were denied basic human rights , Johnson, through his speeches, songs, prose and poetry, helped give a voice back to those who were oppressed. In this way, Johnson helps bring a traditional creation myth to a race of people often isolated by white society and helps give a new voice to an ancient story.

For white readers during that time, the title made no excuses and left no questions about the source of this powerful sermon. In search for both a new voice as well as a new shape for this voice, Johnson lets the changing moods and expression of his subject matter determine the length and sound of each line, unlike traditional verse. In the original story of Genesis from the Old Testament, God creates man—after making the earth and seas and animals—so man can be a caretaker and name giver, a guardian of all lesser creatures.

A vernacular is an offshoot of a language specific to people in a certain region or culture. Throughout his poem, Johnson chooses to give his.

O Black And Unknown Bards by James Weldon Johnson: poem analysis

In a similar move, the imagery Johnson uses throughout is often familiar to his specific audience. Images are the descriptions poets and writers create using sensory details, or details we can smell, hear, taste, touch or see. Johnson elaborates specific details of how God created earth and man throughout, twisting, and in other places outright changing the storyline from the Book of Genesis.

More than just making the language and imagery of the creation story his own, Johnson makes up some completely new details to ensure this retelling is more than a mere rehashing of old news. Two stanzas later, God is stomping around on earth making the valleys from his footsteps and the mountains from where the ground bulged.

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In the Old Testament, God seems to be a rigid and all-powerful being, often pictured as an old man in long robes leaning on a cloud high above the earth; a God who is unapproachable and judgmental. The images Johnson uses throughout his work, however, accumulate to shape a different picture. These images help soften the typical image of God as a lofty, all-powerful, and angry being, thus allowing readers to feel closer to a previously distant image of the Lord. All of this discussion of how Johnson changed or adapted the creation myth in order to make his own is not to say he completely abandoned all of its original elements.

The basic order of creation is retained, although the day upon which each event occurred is not mentioned. Instead, it seems as if this God did everything in one sitting. Retelling a story informed by your own cultural background, in your own language, and with your own unique sense of imagery allows you to become part of a mythology from which you were previously excluded.

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  7. There was, indeed, a striking resemblance between the two men, though Johnson rarely achieved the flights of genuine poetry so often incontestably attained by Dunbar in his best poems. Johnson, like Dunbar, had the soul of an entertainer, at home in show business, eager to please, and always on the alert for a possible success.

    As a student at Atlanta University he already sang in a vocal quartet that toured New England to raise funds for the university. For seven years his mind was centered upon show business, and a whole section of his first volume of poems is there to remind us that he spent longer as songwriter than as poet.

    In those days the royalties of a writer depended largely upon the young fellow who would buy a copy of the song and take it along with him when he went to call on his girl It needed little analysis to see that a song written in exclusive praise of blue eyes was cut off at once from about three-fourths of the possible chances for universal success; that it could make but faint appeal to the heart or pocketbook of a young man going to call on a girl with brown eyes or black eyes or gray eyes.

    So we worked on the chorus of our song until, without making it a catalogue, it was inclusive enough to enable any girl who sang it or to whom it was sung to fancy herself the maiden with the dreamy eyes.

    O Black and Unknown Bards: Paul Robeson

    Here to be found once again are all the types of song that had been in circulation twenty-five years earlier: the naive, sugary love song, the cradle song with which the black mammy lulls her picaninny to sleep, the story of the rival rural swains, the fable that pays homage to Brer Rabbit, and even, on occasion, a discreet hymning of the good old days and of good oldtime Georgia.

    Of all the poems in this section, only one can boast a certain originality. When he was writing this poem, Johnson must certainly have recalled his experiences as a onetime teacher in an out-of-the-way Georgia village, where the Negro children attended school only during the summer months when Atlanta University students could earn a little pocket money by teaching school. Yet some of his poems in standard English are scarcely less conformist than his dialect poems. Under the influence of his maternal grandmother, who would have liked to see him become a minister, from the age of nine he had been forced into religious observances, inappropriate for a child, in the Methodist church which she attended.

    When she wanted him to be accepted as a fullfledged member, an argument broke out between her and her son-in-law; this aroused anxiety in the child. With it was blended his dislike for certain external religious practices common in the popular Negro churches:. These combined factors at length produced reluctance, doubt, rebellion.

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    8. I began to ask myself questions that frightened me. I groped within the narrow boundaries of my own knowledge and experience and between the covers of the Bible for answers, because I did not know to whom I could turn I was alone with my questionings and doubts At fourteen I was skeptical.

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      This experience, in which his frankness was poorly rewarded, may have given rise to the reserve with which he would henceforth surround his metaphysical convictions. Not only did he reveal nothing of his agnosticism in his poetry; quite the contrary, he strewed left and right declarations of trust in God the Creator and in Providence, as though he were speaking on his own account. But this is slight, compared to the numerous passages that could convince one of his religious orthodoxy.

      Since he did not believe in God, why did he turn to him in prayer? Thus the envoi at the end of the collection begs the Almighty for inspiration and persuasive force:. But nothing authorizes such a supposition, and if we may trust his belated avowal in Along This Way , his agnosticism remained unwavering to the very end. Listen Lord A Prayer. To America. O black and unknown bards thesis. O Black and Unknown Bards: Paul Robeson O black and unknown bards thesis - Because example shows, the average person with legitimate power will often use coercive power at the same time in tandem together with the legitimate capability to control the thoughts and behaviors with the employees.

      O Black And Unknown Bards by James Weldon Johnson In truth these rich treasuries of faith were assembled by a community of authors across time and space whom Harlem Renaissance poet James Weldon Johnson calls in his commemoration of the Spirituals composers O black and unknown bards of long ago and of whom he asks how came your lips to touch the sacred fire. The Portable Harlem Renaissance Reader Master thesis islamic finance; essays on mexican border; contoh thesis bahasa inggris s2; o black and unknown bards thesis; ideas for creative writing stories; I believe that all of my life experiences are already required to bring me up to now.

      O black and unknown bards thesis Go down, Death, and bring her to me. Audio CD. More Details Original Title. Friend Reviews.

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