Presentation on theme: "Walt Whitman‘s You Felons on Trial in Courts and To a Common Prostitute & Langston Hughes’ I, Too and Democracy."— Presentation transcript:
Walt Whitman‘s You Felons on Trial in Courts and To a Common Prostitute & Langston Hughes’ I, Too and Democracy
Whitman and Slavery Contradictory attitude towards slavery Included black people in his vision in Leaves of Grass as equals among human beings Had racial prejudices and opposed abolitionism Social Darwinism
You Felons on Trial in Courts You felons on trial in courts, You convicts in prison-cells, you sentenced assassins chain'd and handcuff'd with iron, Who am I too that I am not on trial or in prison? Me ruthless and devilish as any, that my wrists are not chain'd with iron, or my ankles with iron? You prostitutes flaunting over the trottoirs or obscene in your rooms, Who am I that I should call you more obscene than myself? O culpable! I acknowledge--I expose! (O admirers, praise not me--compliment not me--you make me wince, I see what you do not--I know what you do not.) Inside these breast-bones I lie smutch'd and choked, Beneath this face that appears so impassive hell's tides continually run, Lusts and wickedness are acceptable to me, I walk with delinquents with passionate love, I feel I am of them--I belong to those convicts and prostitutes myself, And henceforth I will not deny them--for how can I deny myself?
To a Common Prostitute Be composed--be at ease with me--I am Walt Whitman, liberal and lusty as Nature, Not till the sun excludes you do I exclude you, Not till the waters refuse to glisten for you and the leaves to rustle for you, do my words refuse to glisten and rustle for you. My girl I appoint with you an appointment, and I charge you that you make preparation to be worthy to meet me, And I charge you that you be patient and perfect till I come. Till then I salute you with a significant look that you do not forget me.
Questions ● Do you think everybody belongs to the wrongdoers Whitman is talking about? ● Would Whitman consider sex with a prostitute as such a wrongdoing? ● How do you judge the morality of advocating equality verbally without striving for it activly?
Langston Hughes James Mercer Langston Hughes 1902 – 1964 American poet, social activist, novelist, playwright, and columnist A leader of the Harlem Renaissance Portrayal of working-class blacks, their struggles and joys in life Black pride Influenced by Walt Whitman
I, Too vs. I Hear America Singing I, too, sing America. I am the darker brother. They send me to eat in the kitchen When company comes, But I laugh, And eat well, And grow strong. Tomorrow, I'll be at the table When company comes. Nobody'll dare Say to me, "Eat in the kitchen,“ Then. Besides, They'll see how beautiful I am And be ashamed– I, too, am America. I Hear America Singing. I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear, Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong, The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam, The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work, The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deck-hand singing on the steamboat deck, The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands, The woodcutter's song, the ploughboy's on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown, The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing, Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else, The day what belongs to the day — at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly, Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.
Democracy Democracy will not come Today, this year Nor ever Through compromise and fear. I have as much right As the other fellow has To stand On my two feet And own the land. I tire so of hearing people say, Let things take their course. Tomorrow is another day. I do not need my freedom when I'm dead. I cannot live on tomorrow's bread. Freedom Is a strong seed Planted In a great need. I live here, too. I want freedom Just as you.
Questions To what extent does Hughes “I,too” allude to Whitman's “I Hear America Singing”? Give textual evidence. Why will nobody dare to say “'Eat in the kitchen', then”? What do you think: are democracy and compromise separable from each other?