Countee Cullen’s Poem Incident Analysis

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Probably the most underrated African American poet of his clip. Countee Cullen is a really rebellious dissenter themed author who is all about procuring the rights and self-respect of black people and uses that really passion to fuel his poesy. In the verse form “Incident” . Cullen uses a mixture of rhetorical devices which he incorporates into his dry rhythmic sentence structure to assist stress to readers the consequence of racism had on kids populating in the early -mid 1900’s. a large clip of racism. Written in 1925. Cullen used this verse form as a manner for him to vent his feelings and defeat and inform the ignorant all at the same clip. The poem negotiations about a immature African American male child who is excited that he is sing Baltimore and while there he comes across another immature male child that is his same age and size but he is white and so the immature male child is surprised by a powerful and rough racial slur. The verse form is non every bit caput as Cullen makes it seems. it is really an dry verse form. The first intimation of sarcasm is found early in the verse form “Now I eight and really small/And he was no whit bigger” ( 5-6 ) . A reader would believe that the racialist strong-arming would come from person bigger than the child in the verse form when in all actuality it was from person his ain size. and that’s precisely what Cullen is seeking to demo. that racism came from all ages and happened between all spectrums of ages. a adolescent and an grownup. an grownup and a kid. anyone. The Spencer 2

sarcasm does non halt at that place. you see another glimpse of it in the last stanza. “And he was no whit bigger” ( 6 ) . In the verse form humor is spelled W. H. I. T but. the right spelling of humor is W. I. T and this is no spelling mistake. this is really a little wordplay Cullen uses to assist stress his racial subject. It’s as if Cullen takes the “E” off of white and if it’s put back it’s “No white-bigger” . Cullen used this drama on words to demo the mental misrepresentation that was used by white people used to do themselves look intellectually superior. Not merely is the content of this verse form unique. but so is the construction. In the first stanza the syllables of each line alternate 8 and 6. so for the remainder of the verse form alternates 8 and 7. This alone syllable construction gives the verse form a rhythmic under tone of joy. which in bend when it mixed with the content and subject of racism brings out more of the poem’s sarcasm which is one of the chief manner focal points of this verse form.

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Cullen’s inspirations of his life and passions are decidedly apparent in this verse form. First off the location of the verse form was set in Baltimore. MD and although much of Cullen’s early biographical information is fly-by-night and ill-defined. Baltimore has said to be one of Cullen’s possible birth topographic points which is hinted in the verse form. “Once siting in old Baltimore” ( 1 ) . Another cardinal connexion is that Cullen lived in a clip period where racism and segregation was a really popular thought so an incident such as the 1 in the verse form happening to Cullen is a really strong possibility.

Cullen’s alone composing stlye and complex sentence structure that is shown in his verse form Incident is what made him one of the best authors of his clip. and although the subject of the verse form is still a touchy topic for most Incident is a verse form that has been and will be a poem worth reading for centuries.

Plants CitedCullen. Countee. Magill’s Survey of American Literature: Pasadena: Salem Press. 2007. print. V. 2

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