Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"Song" by Gwendolyn Bennett

I am weaving a song of waters,
Shaken from firm, brown limbs,
Or heads thrown back in irreverent mirth.
My song has the ush sweetness
Of moist, dark lips
Where hymns keep company
With old forgotten banjo songs.
Abandon tells you
That I sing the heart of race
While sadness whispers
That I am the cry of a soul. . . .
A-shoutin' in de ole camp-meeting-place,
A-strummin' o' de ole banjo.
Singin' in de moonlight,
Sobbin' in de dark.
Singin', sobbin', strummin' slow . . .
Singin' slow, sobbin' low.
Strummin', strummin', strummin' slow . . .
Words are bright bugles
That make the shining for my song,
And mothers hold down babies
To dark, warm breasts
To make my singing sad.
A dancing girl with swaying hips
Sets mad the queen in the harlot's eye.
        Praying slave
        Jazz-band after
        Breaking heart
        To the time of laughter . . .
Clinking chains and minstrelsy
Are wedged fast with melody.
        A praying slave
        With a jazz-band after . . .
        Singin' slow, sobbin' low.
Sun-baked lips will kiss the earth.
Throats of bronze will burst with mirth.
        Sing a little faster,
        Sing a little faster,
   In the poem Song by Gwendolyn Bennett the poet speaks about the music, dance and traditions of African culture. She speaks about the traditional but forgotten songs of her heritage in the beginning but transitions into more detail about how her people were enslaved and supressed starting in the line "praying slave..". Also this poem is about how African people used music and song to fight against oppression. She is saying that as long as she has song and music than she is able to be strong like in the line "A praying slave/With a jazz band after.../Singin' slow ,Singin' low".
    The Harlem Renaissance themes presented in this poem are identification with race and negro heritage and history. In the beginning of the poem the poet speaks about how beautiful the African race is and how she is proud of her heritage. In the lines "That I sing the heart of race" and "Shaken from firm, brown limbs" Bennett identifies herself as a complete part of her race and that she is proud to be who she is. Towards the end of the poem in the lines "Clinking chains and minstrelsy/Are wedged fast with melody./A praying slave" the theme of negro heritage and history is evident because the poet writes about how slavery was gruesome but full of song at the same time. She suggests that although slavery was a gruesome time of oppression it still flourished with music.
    Bennett uses rhyme, imagery, and repetition to help the audience really get a feel for the poem. In the line "My song has the ush sweetness/of moist dark lips" the descriptive language gives the reader a visual image of the beauty of music and the African race. The rhyme used in the poem makes it easier for the reader to comprehend. Like in the lines "Clinking chains and minstrelsy/Are wedged fast with melody" flow easily off of the tongue. Lastly the poet uses repetition to make her point come across as more strong. The lines "Sing a little faster/Sing a little faster/Sing!" are totally burned into the readers mind and repetition is a good way to end this poem.
   I like this poem because Gwendolyn Bennett writes in a style that's easy for me to comprehend but she still gets her message across. The descriptive language she uses gave me a detailed image of what she was describing. I also like how she used rhyme in specific places because it would've been boring had she used it throughout the whole poem. I chose it because I wanted to do a poem that had a deeper meaning than what I got from the first read.


  1. Wow this analysis is extremely in depth- i thought it was very thorough. I didn't see any large holes in your analysis and i thought that the figurative language painted a picture of Africa. Bonita.

  2. I love how in depth you got with this analysis. Great analysis of repitition, imagery and rhythm. Its interesting that, although, slavery was horrible amazing music came from it. The poet suggests that good things came form the horror of oppression. Nice choice

  3. The painting with the African Americans gathered together is "Midsummer Night in Harlem". (1938) It is by Palmer Hayden.