To the White Fiends by Claude McKay. What though before us lies the open grave? But the Almighty from the darkness drew My soul and said: Even thou shaft be a light Awhile to burn on the benighted earth, Thy dusky face I set among the white For thee to prove thyself of highest worth; Before the world is swallowed up in night, To show thy little lamp: go forth, go forth! Countee Cullen, Langston Hughes, and Claude McKay all influenced me as an aspiring writer. While he was in Europe, McKay produced three novels which reflected his own interest in the Negro folk. Collections of McKay's papers are housed in the James Weldon Johnson Collection and in the Papers and Manuscript Collection, both in the Beineke Library, Yale University. Be not deceived, for every deed you do I could matchout-match: am I not Africas son, Black of that black land where black deeds are done? The Chicago riot of July was the worst. Her vigor flows like tides into my blood, Giving me strength erect against her hate.
Before leaving that job because of policy differences with Gold, McKay's first American book of poems, Harlem Shadows, appeared. You argue that McKay reinforces the stereotype of the black person as fiendish, but you also recognize that that reinforcement is shocking to white racist sensibility. Throughout McKay's entire work, his homeland is pictured in the richest of words. McKay represents the blacks as potentially darker--in a sense of evil deeds--than the whites; however, even though this was a popular opinion thought of by the whites at the time, the blacks mostly thought that they were more righteous, or at least equally just, than the whites. Another old radical, Joseph Freeman, remembered also in his autobiography McKay's charm and wit.
As the twenties progressed, Negroes and their arts enjoyed a considerable vogue. Be not deceived, for every deed you do I could match — out-match: am I not Africa's son, Black of that black land where black deeds are done? But the Almighty from the darkness drew My soul and said: Even thou shalt be a light Awhile to burn on the benighted earth, Thy dusky face I set among the white For thee to prove thyself of highest worth; Before the world is swallowed up in night, To show thy little lamp: go forth, go forth! The White House Your door is shut against my tightened face, And I am sharp as steel with discontent; But I possess the courage and the grace To bear my anger proudly and unbent. That being said, I think you may rely on the source a bit too heavily. Primitive African art became popular among many intellectuals. We will be looking at the first line in the sonnet. In his third novel, Banana Bottom, he idealized the folk culture of Jamaica.
But the Almighty from the darkness drew My soul and said: Even thou shaft be a light Awhile to burn on the benighted earth, 10 Thy dusky face I set among the white For thee to prove thyself of highest worth; Before the world is swallowed up in night, To show thy little lamp: go forth, go forth! It's ironic because the whites would not expect the blacks to agree with their statements about their inferiority; this of course catches any white, racist readers off guard. For one thing, he was a Jamaican and did not become an American citizen until 1940. I believe he is asking if the whites think that he can't be as violent and evil to them as they are being to blacks. Do you know that was the first getting together of the black and white literati on a purely social plane. He remained there only a few months, leaving to study agriculture at Kansas State University. What is demonstrated to indicate a shift in tone? Rhyme scheme and stylized nature also play a role in McKay's highly reminiscent work.
These notes were contributed by members of the GradeSaver community. Think you I am not fiend and savage too? Think you I could not arm me with a gun And shoot down ten of you for every one Of my black brothers murdered, burnt by you? Another positive consequence of pairing this specific artifact with a larger thesis of the Harlem Renaissance is that it avoids drawing generalizations about an entire cultural movement based off of a mere 14 lines of poetry. All things being equal, McKay's portrait of the Jamaican peasant is in substance that of the peasant the world over. But having preserved his vision as poet and his status as a human being, he can transcend bitterness. The book is considered unreliable as material for his autobiography because, for example, in it McKay denies his membership in the communist party, as McLeod points out.
If the poet could not physically defeat it, he, nevertheless, could throw a revealing light on its moral inferiority. McLeod in the Dictionary of Literary Biography. Years later Johnson wrote to McKay concerning that event: We often speak of that party back in '22. I agree that Hughes is not necessarily optimistic about the future but does seem to care more about intermingling with white society than McKay. That McKay shared this attitude is evident in all his writings.
Rosamond Johnson--I think that party started something. Both Banjo and Ray are perpetually dissatisfied and disturbed by their limited roles in white society, and by the end of the novel the men are prepared to depart from Marseilles. When Garvey spoke in New York City, he would draw thousands of people eager to hear his thoughts on racial redemption and of a return to Africa. McKay felt Negroes should not lose sight of their own uniqueness and the value of their own creations while taking what was valuable from the larger European civilization. McKay also wrote on a variety of subjects, from his Jamaican homeland to romantic love, with a use of passionate language.
As in Kingston, McKay encountered racism in New York City, and that racism compelled him to continue writing poetry. Over time, this memory of an idyllic time in childhood took on a mythic status expressed in much of his poetry as a thematic yearning to recapture that lost innocence and reinvoke the experience through the perspective of recognition as experience to be savored. In 1918, McKay recorded in Pearson's Magazine his first reaction to Southern racial prejudice. Home to Harlem, his first novel, is the story of Jake, a Negro doughboy, and his joyful return to Harlem after World War I. Claude McKay's groundbreaking works show his dislike for the widespread racism and unfairness faced in an unjust society.
Home to Harlem—with its sordid, occasionally harrowing scenes of ghetto life—proved extremely popular, and it gained recognition as the first commercially successful novel by a black writer. Such parties are now common in New York, but I doubt if any has been more representative. His career through the twenties reads, in fact, like a romance of the decade itself. Losing faith in Communism, he turned his attention to the teachings of various spiritual and political leaders in Harlem, eventually converting to Catholicism. In addition, the Negro Renaissance became a part of the general revolt by the writers of the decade against the gross materialism and outmoded moral values of America's new industrial society.
They were Home to Harlem 1928 , Banjo 1929 , and Banana Bottom 1933. Think you I could not arm me with a gun And shoot down ten of you for every one Of my black brothers murdered, burnt by you? I see the mighty city through a mist— The strident trains that speed the goaded mass, The poles and spires and towers vapor-kissed, The fortressed port through which the great ships pass, The tides, the wharves, the dens I contemplate, Are sweet like wanton loves because I hate. World War I and the resulting mass migration of Negroes to the urban North further disrupted old patterns of life and created new hopes, as well as new problems,. The Harlem Dancer Applauding youths laughed with young prostitutes And watched her perfect, half-clothed body sway; Her voice was like the sound of blended flutes Blown by black players upon a picnic day. When I read this line the theme of hatred is apparent.