The Harlem Renaissance During the 1920s and 1930s a literary and cultural revolution arose, referred to as the Harlem Renaissance. The movement cultivated a new cultural identity and voice for African Americans through art, music, and literature. The period coincided with the movement of many African Americans from the South to the urban areas in the North.
Claude McKay (1889-1948) Festus Claudius McKay, better known as Claude McKay, was a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance, a prominent literary movement of the 1920s. His work ranged from vernacular verse celebrating peasant life in Jamaica to fairly militant poems challenging white authority in America, and from generally straightforward tales of black life in both Jamaica and America to more philosophically ambitious fiction addressing instinctual/intellectual duality, which McKay found central to the black individual's efforts to cope in a racist society.
If We Must Die If we must die—let it not be like hogs Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot, While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs, Making their mock at our accursed lot. If we must die—oh, let us nobly die, So that our precious blood may not be shed In vain; then even the monsters we defy Shall be constrained to honor us though dead! Oh, Kinsmen! We must meet the common foe; Though far outnumbered, let us show us brave, And for their thousand blows deal one deathblow! What though before us lies the open grave? Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack, Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!
ABOUT THE POEM • Theme: If the black people must die let it not be out of shame of their skin color but out of honor and dignity. • The tone of the poem is strength and bravery. • Literary Devices: • “If we must die—let it not be like hogs Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot”– This is an example of a simile. It is a simile because it uses “like” to compare two different things. • “Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack, Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!”– This is and example of a mood. It is a mood because it has attitude in it which is an angry mood.
Works Cited • http://www.cramster.com/definitions/harlem-renaissance/540 • http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/claude-mckay • http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15250