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Poetry by McKay, Dunbar, Thomas, Hall, Brooks Essay


If We Must Die by Claude McKay

The poem, “If we must Die” has always provided me courage and determination to fight on and overcome challenges I face in my day-to-day activities. The tone and the spirit the poem provides have served me a great deal in my life. When I remember the spirit, the soldiers have put on regardless of knowing their status I get encouraged to face difficult situations without any fear. Therefore, my choice of the poem is because it has provided me with guards to face complex circumstances with brevity, which has seen me achieve and reach where I am today.

I picked this poem in particular because of the motivation McKay portrays through it which enables me to solve and overcome problems, which I may not have managed without such encouragement from the poem.

The most arresting and captivating line in the poem is “If we must die, O let us nobly die” (Connelly and Trimmer 45). The speaker is optimistic to go and face the rivals and although the chances of surviving the fight look minimal, he wants the group to die a noble death, a death that will be of importance to the remaining people. They do not want to die like hogs but die a purposeful death, which will have a positive impact even in their absence. This line inspires me as it encourages me as a reader to avoid selfish interest but engage in initiatives that add value to the large society even in my absence.

The poem has several themes. One of the themes is “warfare” which the author brings out indirectly. From the explanation and description, an impression of a raging battle is brought out as the speakers urge his groups to put on a spirited heart and attack their rivals bravely without fear even if their chances of survival are small. Honor is another theme presented in the poem. The theme comes out clear and is the most prominent idea that emerges through the poem as the speaker is optimistic about his groups and hopes that they will represent him well until the end of the fight.

We Wear the Mask by Paul Laurence Dunbar

Picking this poem by Laurence Paul resulted from my desire to have an accommodative society for every person and freedom to every person to residence wherever place he wants. Even with the changing times, it is astonishing to witness several cases of racial discrimination and oppression by some communities, which feel superior to others. This poem provides me with a sense of goodwill whenever I read it and that is why I picked on it. Furthermore, the poem seems well written in a simple and easy to understand language, presenting the message systematically through metaphors hence facilitating understanding.

The most interesting line that I like reads, “We wear the mask that grins and lies”. The line carries the whole picture of how black Americans are treated and pretense. The line shows a clear picture of the pretense that black America does to avoid any retaliation or aggression towards them. This line, therefore, has a great effect on the readers because it carries the largest portion of the poem as it highlights the behaviors of the less minority group’s tactics to elude any form of mistreatments. The minority wears the mask in order to deceive the opponents of their true colors and feelings. Therefore, a strategy seems employed for them to survive.

A number of themes in the poem “we wear the mask” exist but the most prominent is that of concealed suffering and pain. The poem illustrated how the blacks concealed their own suffering without any courage of speaking them out or retaliating.

The sufferings and pains in the poem refer to the masks the people wore. There is deception by the blacks although, in anguish and pain, they persevere and forge on with love for the fear of the repercussions or the consequences of speaking them out. Therefore, the author of this poem, Paul, is concerned about the blacks who suffer in anguish without complaining. The poem is sorrowful as the author highlights the tragedies that the blacks go through.

Do not go gentle into that Good Night by Dylan Thomas

The poem by Dylan sends out a message of determination and commitment to forge on even if the situations become tuff. I chose this poem because of the author’s spirited heart to overcome the most difficult situation in life. Dylan speaks through the poem and his message is that of encouragement and a spirit of “never give up”. Apart from the above reason, the way the poet has used his words like “Goodnight” referring to death, pairing “ gentle” with “rage”, “good” and “dying” and so forth interest me and makes the rhythm of the poem flow and interesting.

Although the poem has a variety of lines, I feel captivated by the line “rage, rage against the dying of the light”. The line forms the basis of the entire poem, which the speaker uses to express his determination and efforts to overcome death. Although the speaker knows that death is irresistible and when I come it is difficult to avoid it, he shows optimism that the man, (father) should move on and do his best by avoiding death. He uses “rage” repeatedly to illustrate his truth and confident that there is no need to give up early.

The theme of the poem is “anger,” the speaker tells his readers or rather the subjects in his poem to rage” or employ all the necessary tactics against death. He uses different caliber of men ranging from the wise men, wild men, good men, and grave men that feel that their lives are not fully filled but do not point out why raging should be preferred than peaceful accepting death.

Anger is a result of unreasoned emotions, which Thomas brings out cleverly to explore how these men in pursuit of their goals seem, turned out through their anger into disappointments and frustration. The poem theme, therefore, points out that all kinds of men with their goals and achievements, though facing threat of death, attributed to anger, they need to fight on to the end.

My Son, My Executioner by Donald Hall

I chose this poem by Donald Hall on the premise of its simplicity and the intensity of the message it conveys. As human beings, we live having many hopes and cherishing one another, but unfortunately, we are not aware of the day when our life on earth seizes. The way the deceased remembers the good moments with his son, reflects the reality of how life can change unexpectedly sometimes accepting the reality becomes a difficult thing and these moments keeps on haunting us when we remember them. Therefore, my choice of the poem was to make me a stronger person in the event of such occurrences.

The verse that touches me most, or rather interests me reads,” Quiet and small and just astir”. This becomes it makes me remember the love and the joy that exists between a child with his parents. People may not witness these wonderful moments in any other stage of their lives. The author draws me in this mood, I see the picture and it actually interests me and makes me very happy. When I read the verse, I feel worthy and loved and therefore, I cherish the fact that I exist as many wished to live but unfortunately did not make it.

The theme of the poem is solemn. The poem presents its message in a sorrowful mood. The fact that the parents wished to see their lovely son, unfortunately, that does not happen. Therefore, the poet postulates or rather presents his message in a sober manner as the poem talks about the agony faced by the son. When the poet reflects how the parent loved their son, the way his body used to warm his son, it shows how much the loss hurts them. Therefore, the theme adopted by the author is solemn. The parents were optimistic about an enduring life for their son but unfortunately, that does not occur.

We Real Cool by Gwendolyn Brooks

I also picked on this poem by Gwendolyn because of the heavy message it conveys to the teenagers. Brook’s message goes to the teenagers and through the poem he brings to us; the fate of those teenagers who do not take seriously their studies claiming that the repercussions are rife. The consequences of not attending their school are enormously as they may not get good employments and therefore end up involving in obscene activities that may lead them to death. Therefore, I picked this poem because of its concrete message and its advice to the teenager, I included the need to take good care of them by being responsible.

The line that arouses my interest in the poem “We Real Cool” is “we die soon” as it hits directly to the point, it address and presents to the students the end results of not attending school. It will be their downfall in the future, as they will not secure decent employment opportunities in their future. It, therefore, means that if they do not put in extra effort and sacrifice some of their time by not going to play pool and enjoying themselves. The future is rife and some of them may turn out to be criminals. Therefore, the author through this line sums up the repercussions of not taking seriously their academics. It also acts as a lesson to such students to be aware of their future as it lies in their own hands.

The theme of the poem is anger as captured in the last line of the poem, “we die soon”. Although a good percentage of the poem portrays happiness, the poet sums and concludes it with a sad note. Contrary to the good and enjoyable life the boys live and putting in less effort at school has a bad ending at last. The teenagers live a happy free life; they play and make fun without really reflecting back on their future.

Therefore, the poem theme is that of the anguish, the agony, and the problems that await these teenagers in their future life as some of them because of their insufficient education will not secure employment hence turning up to criminal acts which may see some of them succumb to death.

Work Cited

Connelly, Mark, and Trimmer, Joseph. Reading for English 2. Thomson and Heinle, Boston: Massachusetts, 1998.

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IvyPanda. (2021, January 5). Poetry by McKay, Dunbar, Thomas, Hall, Brooks. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/poetry-by-mckay-dunbar-thomas-hall-brooks/

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1. IvyPanda. "Poetry by McKay, Dunbar, Thomas, Hall, Brooks." January 5, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/poetry-by-mckay-dunbar-thomas-hall-brooks/.


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IvyPanda. "Poetry by McKay, Dunbar, Thomas, Hall, Brooks." January 5, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/poetry-by-mckay-dunbar-thomas-hall-brooks/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Poetry by McKay, Dunbar, Thomas, Hall, Brooks." January 5, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/poetry-by-mckay-dunbar-thomas-hall-brooks/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Poetry by McKay, Dunbar, Thomas, Hall, Brooks'. 5 January.

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