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Research paper topic: Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Was The First Important African American Poet In American Literature And The First Poet To Write Of Bot - 1045 words
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.. 37). The ideas in this era pertaining to literature was that the visualization was just as important as the content. Scientific improvement in the industrial world inspired devotion to new artistry techniques. Imagination and perspective became a fundamental aspect of the modernist technique as well.
It was no longer adequate to write a basic third-person narrative or use an interfering narrator. How the poem was told became as significant as the poetry itself. To analyze such modernist novels and poetry, a school of new criticism arose in the United States, with a new critical vocabulary. New critics hunted the epiphany (moment in which a character suddenly sees the transcendent truth of a situation, a term derived from a holy saint's appearance to mortals); they examined and clarified a work, hoping to shed light upon it through their insights (Columbus 25). "A Poet and His Song" A song is but a little thing, And yet what joy it is to sing! In hours of toil it gives me zest, And when at eve I long for rest; When cows come home along the bars, 5 And in the fold I hear the bell, As Night, the shepherd, herds his stars, I sing my song, and all is well.
There are no ears to hear my lays, No lips to lift a word of praise; 10 But still, with faith unfaltering, I live and laugh and love and sing. What matters yon unheeding throng? They cannot feel my spirit's spell, Since life is sweet and love is long, 15 I sing my song, and all is well. My days are never days of ease; I till my ground and prune my trees. When ripened gold is all the plain, I put my sickle to the grain. 20 I labor hard, and toil and sweat, While others dream within the dell; But even while my brow is wet, I sing my song, and all is well. Sometimes the sun, unkindly hot 25 My garden makes a desert spot; Sometimes a blight upon the tree Takes my fruit away from me; And then with throes of bitter pain Rebellious passions rise and swell; 30 But life is more than fruit or grain, And so I sing, and all is well.
In "A Poet and His Song" written my Paul Lawrence Dunbar, we are presented with Dunbars own trial and tribulations as a writer and the goals that he set for himself. Dunbar skillfully goes back and forth from various dialects, the standard English of a classical poet and the dialect of the turn-of-the century black community in America. Creating a tone of soulful determination. Dunbars attitude in the poem is that all accomplishments in life are done so through patience and hard work. In lines one through five, Dunbar is relating music to the to the way the rhythm of the poem flows. When he read his poetry he would do so in the form of a song feeling "what a joy it is to sing".
Writing had a way of relaxing Dunbar "In hours of toil it gives me jest", he wrote. Universally the song represents each individuals love for something, whether it be freedom or gardening, everyone has something that they enjoy doing and for Dunbar it's writing. Herbert Martin, known as the "English professor by day and Paul Lawrence Dunbar by night" began studying Dunbars work as a child after being told that he bore a resemblance to Dunbar. Martin believed that "Dunbar heard music in poetry" because "it echoed in his work"(Rizvi 121). The second part of the poem containing lines six through ten, people are compared to the cows coming home at the end of a long workday.
The "shepherd" herding his stars is really literary legends or people of importance sending their writers home, their "stars". In Dunbars life writing makes everything "well" even when there is no one there to praise him for his work. When a person truly enjoys something, they do it for themselves and not for others approval. Lines ten through fifteen Dunbar discusses that although there wasnt always someone there to commend him for his hard work he continued to write with even more determination. Believing that it doesnt matter if you have an audience if they cant relate to his writing.
There are times when we as readers have done something that we have been proud of but had no who understood where it was all coming from. The section lines sixteen through twenty-four Dunbar talks about how writing has improved his life. Dunbar has worked hard to accomplish the goals hes set for himself while others lay around and watch life pass them by. Anything valuable in life one must work towards to gain. The final section, lines twenty-five through thirty-two, explains the hardships and set backs he has encountered along the way and even when reaching his goals had seemed impossible, Dunbar still had the passion to strive for his dreams and in the long run it only made him stronger. "Dunbars writings are ways in which Dunbar could appeal to his larger white audiences while simultaneously offering more accurate portrayals of African American life than white writers who wrote poetry using dialect verse"(Marshall 309). Although the words that Dunbar has become so well known for were written, had this poem been read aloud, the elevation of his voice would have a larger impact on the audience. However there is an apparent change in lines ten through fourteen when he begins to get angry and moves slightly out of dialect.
Even though it is not as apparent in this poem "Dunbar steps in and out of dialect for effect, never losing his distinctly black voice. He plays both sides of the fence it seems to me. He involves the reader in such a way that you cannot miss the point". Dunbar came under criticism for achieving stereotypes among his white readers, however a careful study of his work will show that he was not the "sell out" he was often accused of being (Rizvi 123). Dunbar's work represents a legacy not only to black Americans but to all people who have loved his poetry. Many have been inspired by his work, which represents a triumph of the human spirit over racism, poverty and adversity.
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