Saturday, February 1, 2014

Epitaph and Dreaming Black Boy (essay)

Adam Campbell
5 pl 4
English Literature
Ms. Atkins


 Select two poems from those you have studied which focus on the cruelty that human beings are capable of:
a) Outline the situation in each poem in which cruelty takes place
b) Show how poetic devices in each poem affects the reader's response
c) Giving reason, say which of the two you find more shocking

     Poems are used as a means to 'teach' the reader on a topic the poet sees fit. In the poems 'Epitaph' and 'Dreaming Black Boy ' the poet tries to educate the reader on the effects of human cruelty. In many parts of the world racism is considered a form of human cruelty and is very prominent.
     Human cruelty is known as any behavior that is downgrading or disrespectful to the rights of a human being. In 'Dreaming Black Boy' the persona goes under explicit disrespect and racism from both his teacher and fellow students. This happens in the choice of teams for sports where he is always picked last. While the form of human cruelty in 'Epitaph' is taken to another disciple of human cruelty which is murder. In 'Epitaph' images are given to the reader of a black man being hung as well as the people who've hung him showing that they don't see it as a problem. Both forms of cruelty presented show that both 'offenders' are unaware of what they are doing with respect to cruelty.
     Both poets make use of literary devices to aid their message. They use these devices to allow the message to be delivered in a more subtle and intelligent way. In 'Dreaming Black Boy' the poet uses many literary devices but ultimately only one is able to catch the complete and true essence of human cruelty and this is the imagery created by lines 15 - 16 "I wish life wouldn't spend me out opposing." This line creates an image of the persona being discriminated, left out and disregarded. It proves to show the effects of racism and discrimination towards the persona. This form of human cruelty is not one that everyone is keen towards, it ,with aid of the literary device,  is affecting the mentality of the persona, who states explicitly in the poem that he will not be able to continue to undergo this treatment for the rest of his life. This shows the mental indentations these people have put onto the young man. On the other hand in 'Epitaph' the post uses a particular literary device that the poem is known for. This literary device is the metaphor in line 3 " ... a black apostrophe to pain." This metaphor plays a vital role in the poem because it is the centre of events in 'Epitaph'. The black apostrophe is comparing the black slave being hung over the people to an apostrophe in a word. This apostrophe created is a constant reminder to the people who had to walk below him. It was a symbol of the cruelty that slaves went through before abolition. The black apostrophe makes reference to the 'Epitaph' because an apostrophe is a piece of writing about a person who is absent or dead. It is a very gruesome image that is created by merely two words. Though this is evident to readers the hangers are still unaware that this act of cruelty is not only affecting the people in its time but people to come.
     Both poems present a shocking form of cruelty in each poet's way, but in my opinion 'Epitaph' left me more flabbergasted than 'Dreaming Black Boy'. When I think of human cruelty I think of killing and unnecessary treatment towards a person or persons; and for me 'Epitaph' captured all of those aspects within one stanza. The underlining reason for my decision lays with the fact that the cruelty demonstrated in'Epitaph' affects not only the man go was hung or the slaves who were killed, but the rest of people of that colour. The effects it has me the state that black people are subjected too because of one cruel act.
     Cruelty is found in all places of the world and at times are unbearable, but these poems, 'Dreaming Black Boy' and 'Epitaph', show us the reader that we have to move past the cruelty that is there after we do everything we can to correct it.

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