I’ve known rivers:
I’ve known rivers ancient as the world and older than the
flow of human blood in human veins.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
went down to New Orleans, and I’ve seen its muddy
bosom turn all golden in the sunset.
I’ve known rivers:
Ancient, dusky rivers.
My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
I, too, sing America.
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed—
I, too, am America.
The speaker is saying as the darker brother- he is treated as though he is a servant in the house that he lives. As though he is not good enough to eat at the table with company. He laughs, (not as expected) and eats well, and grows strong. His employers have not thought of when they send them to eat in the kitchen- All the food comes from the kitchen. So he can get all the best food before it leaves the kitchen. Then he says tomorrow they won’t dare tell him to eat in the kitchen.
Social protest poem, and racial affirmation.
2 reasons why he will no longer be sent to eat in the kitchen.
1. He will be stronger, and will not allow anyone to order him to the kitchen. He’s been waiting for the opportunity, now that he is strong, he can say no. Almost like a threat. (represents the social protest category)
2. They see how beautiful I am and be ashamed- They will feel bad about how they have been treating him from the beginning. ( racial affirmation)
He is just as much a part of this country as the people that will not let him eat with them.
The instructor said,
Go home and write
a page tonight.
And let that page come out of you—
Then, it will be true.
I wonder if it’s that simple?
I am twenty-two, colored, born in Winston-Salem.
I went to school there, then Durham, then here
to this college on the hill above Harlem.
I am the only colored student in my class.
The steps from the hill lead down into Harlem
through a park, then I cross St. Nicholas,
Eighth Avenue, Seventh, and I come to the Y,
the Harlem Branch Y, where I take the elevator
up to my room, sit down, and write this page:
It’s not easy to know what is true for you or me
at twenty-two, my age. But I guess I’m what
I feel and see and hear, Harlem, I hear you:
hear you, hear me—we two—you, me, talk on this page.
(I hear New York too.) Me—who?
Well, I like to eat, sleep, drink, and be in love.
I like to work, read, learn, and understand life.
I like a pipe for a Christmas present,
or records—Bessie, bop, or Bach.
I guess being colored doesn’t make me NOT like
the same things other folks like who are other races.
So will my page be colored that I write?
Being me, it will not be white.
But it will be
a part of you, instructor.
You are white—
yet a part of me, as I am a part of you.
Sometimes perhaps you don’t want to be a part of me.
Nor do I often want to be a part of you.
But we are, that’s true!
As I learn from you,
I guess you learn from me—
although you’re older—and white—
and somewhat more free.
This is my page for English B.
What assignment has he been given for this English class- Go home and write a page about what’s on his mind.
He apparently has not thought about who he is, so he starts to think about it, and the first thing he realizes is that, in the most important ways hes like everyone else, sleep, eat, love, work, earn learn. (simple things) People have the same needs and desired.
What does it mean to be American?
There is something that set America apart from the other countries in the world.
nickname used to be known as “The great melting pot of the world”
We’re all different , different cultures, different places- That makes us the same.
as with any family- you don’t want to always be a part of each other and there’s no way to undue that.
“Somewhat more free” unexpected word. The instructor is not limited by age, race, yet the speaker is saying he is only somewhat more free. The instructor is limited by narrow perspective and lack of experience. Anyone can have a narow perspective regardless of age, race, gender. Keeps you from seeing many thing especially about people.
Less like racial affirmation and more like human affirmation.
dream deferred: putting off a dream for a very long time. The American Dream- Black people have been hoping to gain access to since 1865.
He asked what happens when it has been deffered for too long?
Nowhere in the poem does he name Harlem
-He provides several possible answers to this question
Provides a series of similes:
Raisins start off as grapes: if theyre in the sun theu shrivel up and lose life moisture.
If this happend in Harlem, you could tell by peoplr just going through the motions in life.
To fester like a sore- when a sore runs, below the surface theres and infection which is reflected in the surrounding.
On the outside of Harlem Slum: physical signs:”running and festering ”
“Does it stink like rotten meat”
-permeates smell cross over the border of harlem.
“Sugar crust over like a sugary sweet”
-infection will still be there but the infection im Harlem would be covered up- sugar coating- fix the slums superficially. “Cover graffiti with paint, fix windows”
But dont deal with underlying problems
“Sags like a heavy load”
Drag their feet, unmotivated, no energy.
The last suggestion: Sets apart from others: italics and different figure of speech: metaphor not a simile. Applied metaphor
“Does it explode to become a bomb ”
Suggesting a result by saying riots will happen. People pay attention, if you dont, there will be explosions.
People did not listen to this poem.