Presentation on theme: "Countee Cullen & the Harlem Renaissance By: Gabriella Sabler, Natalie Martin, and Rosie Oliveri."— Presentation transcript:
Countee Cullen & the Harlem Renaissance By: Gabriella Sabler, Natalie Martin, and Rosie Oliveri
Countee Cullen was born on March 30, 1903. He was a poet, anthologist, novelist, translator, children's writer, and playwright. He started in high school with editing newspapers and editing magazines. He wrote a poem called “I Have a Rendezvous with Life” that was entered into a contest and won. It was clear that he had talent from a young age. Cullen is different from the other artists during the Harlem Renaissance because he had education which helped him succeed that way he did. My research showed me that Cullen was amongst the very few African Americans to actually be respected and “taken seriously” in the art world. Cullen’s graduation from prestige colleges like NYU and Harvard showed the world that African Americans were just as capable of making a difference as white people were, if not more capable. He won the most major literary prizes than any other African American had won. He wrote many poetry that got noticed and made his name known through out the Harlem Renaissance.
Once riding in old Baltimore, Heart-filled, head-filled with glee; I saw a Baltimorean Keep looking straight at me. Now I was eight and very small, And he was no whit bigger, And so I smiled, but he poked out His tongue, and called me, "Nigger.” I saw the whole of Baltimore From May until December; Of all the things that happened there That's all that I remember.
Incident" by Countee Cullen was written in the 1920’s at a time when people of color were greatly discriminated against. Many public places like schools and restaurants were segregated. Through the experience of an eight year old boy Cullen illustrates some of the things black people encountered during that time period. This poem has three quatrains and is written in an ABCD rhyme scheme. This poem describes an encounter between a black child and a white child. The black child gives a friendly smile, but the white child responds with a rude gesture and calls him a racist name. In that moment, he discovers how deeply racial hatred is ingrained in American society. Years later, looking back at that time in his life, the only thing the black man could remember was that time in Baltimore. The theme is that people are cruel to each other, a long with the hatred and prejudice people have towards each other.
Locked arm in arm they cross the way The black boy and the white, The golden splendor of the day The sable pride of night. From lowered blinds the dark folk stare And here the fair folk talk, Indignant that these two should dare In unison to walk. Oblivious to look and word They pass, and see no wonder That lightning brilliant as a sword Should blaze the path of thunder.
The poem Tableau (for Donald Duff) written by Countee Cullen, shows the friendship of two young boys, one black and the other one white as they walk down the street “locked arm in arm” (line 1). The colored “folks would stare” (line 5) and the white“ folks would talk” (line 6), saying that these two dare not walk with each other. The two boys continue to walk down without caring about what anybody has to say. It reinforces the concept that friendship has no color boundaries. The message in this poem conveys that the boys maintained their friendship, despite the criticisms of their interracial relationship. “Tableau” is a three-stanza poem that utilizes rhyme, imagery and metaphor. The structured rhyme scheme of this particular poem is brilliant. It is three-stanzas long, with four lines per stanza. Cullen wrote this poem as an iambic tetrameter. The poem follows a regular rhyme scheme (ABAB CDCD EFEF). Every other ending line rhymes; “way” (line 1) and “day” (line 3), “white” (line 2) and “night” (line 4), “stare" line 5) and “dare” (line 7), “talk” (line 6) and “walk” (line 8), “word” (line 9) and" sword” (line 11), and “wonder” (line 10) and “thunder” (line 12). The poem may be short but it is filled from top to bottom with useful and meaningful information and words. Cullen's use of imagery adds color and life to the poem. It makes the reader feels if they are in the poem.
The way he talks about the “lowered blinds the dark folk stare and here the fair folk talk” (line5-6) makes the reader able to visualize the two boys walking down the street with their arms linked together and having everyone staring and sneering at them. The boys are carefree not worrying about what the others are saying. “Oblivious to look and word, They pass and see no wonder” (lines 9-10). The boys either do not understand the concept of racism yet or obviously do not care. Metaphors play a major role in the poem. Cullen talks about the white boy being" the golden splendor of the day” (line3) and the black boy being “the sable pride of night" line 4). He never favors one race over the other or puts one race down more than the other. Everything he wrote in this poem was about the two boys being equal. The way Cullen expresses the two boys friendship as “That lightening” shows the relationship the boys have together is strong and powerful and nothing is going to break that apart. This poem being only twelve lines long and expressing the strong emotions it does, makes the poem stand out above the rest. It explains the innocence of children and Howe can actually learn from them if we would only open our eyes and see. Children don't understand racism, nor do they care to, they just enjoy each others company. Whether it be black, white, brown, furry, inanimate...they do not care. As long as there is someone there to spend their time with and to talk to. “In unison to walk” (line 8), is the most important line of the poem. If everyone could learn to walk together and hold each other up along the way, the world would be a better place.
"Changes"Come on come on I see no changes. Wake up in the morning and I ask myself, "Is life worth living? Should I blast myself? "I'm tired of bein' poor and even worse I'm black. My stomach hurts, so I'm lookin' for a purse to snatch.Cops give a damn about a negro? Pull the trigger, kill a nigga, he's a hero. Give the crack to the kids who the hell cares? One less hungry mouth on the welfare. First ship 'em dope & let 'em deal the brothers. Give 'em guns, step back, and watch 'em kill each other. "It's time to fight back", that's what Huey said. 2 shots in the dark now Huey's dead. I got love for my brother, but we can never go nowhere unless we share with each other. We gotta start makin' changes.Learn to see me as a brother 'stead of 2 distant strangers. And that's how it's supposed to be. How can the Devil take a brother if he's close to me ?I'd love to go back to when we played as kids but things changed, and that's the way it is [Bridge w/ changing ad libs] Come on come on That's just the way it is Things'll never be the same That's just the way it I saw yeah[Repeat]I see no changes. All I see is racist faces. Misplaced hate makes disgrace for races we under. I wonder what it takes to make this one better place... let's erase the wasted. Take the evil out the people, they'll be acting right. 'Cause mo' black than white is smoking' crack tonight. And only time we chill is when we kill each other. It takes skill to be real, time to heal each other. And although it seems heaven sent, we ain't ready to see a black President, uhh. It ain't a secret don't conceal the fact... the penitentiary's packed, and it's filled with blacks. But some things will never change. Try to show another way, but they staying' in the dope game.
Now tell me what's a mother to do? Bein' real don't appeal to the brother in you. You gotta operate the easy way. "I made a G today" But you made it in a sleazy way. Sellin' crack to the kids. "I gotta get paid," Well hey, well that's the way it is. [Bridge][Talking:]We gotta make a change...It's time for us as a people to start makin' some changes. Let's change the way we eat, let's change the way we live and let's change the way we treat each other. You see the old way wasn't working so it's on us to do what we gotta do, to survive. And still I see no changes. Can't a brother get a little peace? There's war on the streets & the war in the Middle East. Instead of war on poverty, they got a war on drugs so the police can bother me. And I ain't never did a crime I ain't have to do. But now I'm back with the facts givin' 'em back to you. Don't let 'em jack you up, back you up, crack you up and pimp smack you up. You gotta learn to hold ya own. They get jealous when they see ya with ya mobile phone. But tell the cops they can't touch this. I don't trust this, when they try to rush I bust this. That's the sound of my tune. You say it ain't cool, but mama didn't raise no fool. And as long as I stay black, I gotta stay strapped & I never get to lay back. 'Cause I always got to worry 'bout the pay backs. Some buck that I roughed up way back... comin' back after all these years. Rat-a-tat-tat-tat-tat. That's the way it is. uhh[Bridge 'til fade:] Some things will never change