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"Song for a Dark Girl"Edit

Slavery

"Song for a Dark Girl"

I chose the poem "Song for a Dark Girl" written by Langston Hughes. Vividly illustrating the "bad" side of love, this poem describes a heart breaking time for an African American woman. Taking place in 1927, just before the Civil Rights Movement in the South, this poem was written during a time when whites and blacks were treated unequally.The dark girl mentioned in this poem witnesses her lover be battered, beaten, and hung because of his race. Each stanza clearly illustrates the dark womans sorrow and suffering she felt from losing her loved one. Not only that, but each stanza in this poem gives evidence that this poem took place during the slavery days such as the time era, the location, and how it affect her emotionally. 

The first stanza of this poem quickly tells the reader what time period it was in. "Way Down South in Dixie" (line1) is referring to the southern states during the confederate, slavery days. The second line of the poem is off set by parenthesis. These parenthesis show the speaker, the dark woman, was holding back emotion. As she says "(Break the heart of me)" (line 2) she indicates to the reader the sorrow and pain she has had to endure. This poor African women lost her lover forever to slave owners simply because of his race. As a matter of fact, "They hung [her] black young lover/ To a cossroads tree" (line 3-4). When they speaker says "they" she was referring to the cruel white slave owners. The speaker also puts the adjective black before young to state a point that thats why he was hung. He was hung publicly for all the Africans to see and be reminded by the whites that his skin color was a deadly disgrace.

In the second stanza, it repeats the first line of the first stanza which was the location of this era. The second line is also in the same form as the second line in the first stanza. The parenthesis containing the words “(Bruised body high in the air)” (line 6) shows that she resisted having to say what she just saw. She does not want to believe that her lover was hung, so it is almost like she is whispering in denial. The parenthesis gives off the emotion of her heart break as well. Since African Americans were forbid to speak their minds as slaves, the only person the speaker could turn to was God. She “asked the white Lord Jesus/ What was the use of prayer” (line 7-8) because she always confided in Him and she felt like He abandoned her. She describes Jesus as a “white Lord” in comparison to her lovers slave owner who was also white and in control of him. The speaker felt alone because her lover’s life was taken and God was not there by her side in this terrible time.

In the third stanza it repeats the first two lines of the entire poem. This repetition gives the poem rhythm and familiarity to show closer of the poem, but not in her heart. Even though the poem was coming to an end, the way she felt was not, so she was reiterating her heartbreak. She felt stripped of everything she ever was.  Her “Love [was a] naked shadow/ On a gnarled and naked tree” (line 11-12) that could not be full again. The speaker speaks of her love that she portrays as being “naked” because she no longer has her significant other in her heart nor God protecting her. The “shadow” of her love reminds her of how she used to feel, but her feelings will never be the same. She felt alone and bare just like the “gnarled and naked tree” (line 12) that crookedly stood through the beating. Each day she passes the old tree, she will continue to be reminded her of her past lover.      

No matter what this dark girl experiences, she will never forget the day her “black young lover”  (line 3) was wrongfully taken from her. He was murdered due to his skin color by a slave owner. Not only that, but he was brutally beaten and mistreated before his life was taken. During slavery, it was not uncommon for lives of African Americans to be ripped away. This poem displays the injustice the blacks were faced each day and the personal grief this particular dark girl had to endure.



Work Cited:

Delbanco, Nicholas, and Alan Cheuse. "Song For A Dark Girl" Literature: Craft and Voice. Boston:

               McGraw-Hill, 2010. 930. Print.

Wernick, Janelle. "Analysis Of Poems By Langston Hughes." www. uic.edu. n.p., n.d. Web. 17                                         Sept. 2013.

"History of Slavery." http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~arihuang/academic/abg/slavery/history.html. N.p., n.d.                     Web. 24 Sept. 2013.

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