Monday, October 17, 2011

"Heritage" -Countee Cullen

"Heritage" is a poem that describes just that, Countee Cullen's African roots. Although this poem tries to describe the way Africa looks the way people describe a good memory, but it is noted that the writer has a hard time trying to achieve that goal because he repeatedly states "One three centuries removed

From the scenes his fathers loved,
Spicy grove, cinnamon tree,   

What is Africa to me?"

    It isn't that he doesn't want to claim where his family is from it's just that he cannot, he has never been there. The third stanza accurately describes the fact that Africa is so unknown to him because he says it is like a book that you look at but all of those things are unremembered. He has probably heard and read about all the things he mentioned in the poem but cannot accurately picture it in his mind because he has never been there. 
   Then Cullen describes the people and from Africa along with some of the animals. It's funny because he uses terms that don't really describe them as people but more like savages. They are "young forest lovers" and "jungle girls and boys" and I personally thought that when he was talking about the "juggernauts of flesh" they were the strong black men walking around the jungle.
   Cullen really felt disconnected from either places. He could not fit with the Africans because he had never been there and could not relate in any way to the culture they shared over there. Neither could he be an American because, being black, he was look down on and could not really amount to anything because his world could only be ruled and good for the white man. He even feels this way when he writes about the different religions, in America and in Africa. The gods in Africa are "heathen" but the god people worship in America is not black so Cullen feels that he could never understand what he is going through. Cullen's diction demonstrates that to a certain extent he has been influenced by Americans to call others jungle people, savages, and their beliefs, heathen. Does this have anything to do with the fact that he writes five times "so I lie?" What does it mean? 

No comments:

Post a Comment