Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen: Perspective on Religion Essay

4191 Words Jun 1st, 2011 17 Pages
American Literature II Authors:

Langston Hughes and Countee Cullen: Perspective on Religion
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W.E.B Du Bois and Booker T Washington: Political View

In the 1920s, the somewhat genteel world of American poetry was shaken to its foundations when the Harlem Renaissance started. During those times, all over the United States, there was an outburst of strong black voices, writing with African-American cadences and rhythms. Moreover, during that period, generally different and diverse subject matters and styles subsisted in poetry. Furthermore, the blues and jazz clubs in
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Thus Cullen, a poet of the Harlem Renaissance in the early part of the twentieth century, was asserting the mysterious beauty of black skin long before the Civil Rights movement made Black pride fashionable later in the century. At the same time, Cullen's experience as a Black man is set in the context of his role as a poet. He is a poet made Black, not a Black made a poet. Like his black skin, Cullen's poetic talent is a mysterious source of both pain and joy. This poet who fashions a highly polished poem filled with sophisticated allusion is, at the same time, a member of an oppressed race often denied the opportunity to acquire such erudition and poetic skill.
Indeed, Cullen emphasizes the involuntary nature of his poetry. He did not choose to be a poet any more than he chose to be Black. It was God who made him both a poet and Black. It is God who commands him to sing. The poet cannot help himself anymore than he could change the color of his skin. The source of his poetic power is divine and lies outside him. While some poets find this source in nature or in the personal subconscious, Cullen attributes this power to the Supreme Being who dominates this poem. Cullen's insistence upon the divine inspiration of the poet is appropriate in a poem which combines themes from Classical and Biblical sources, for both traditions affirm the ability of supernatural beings to speak through humans. The

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