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Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

A BROWN GIRL DEAD, by             Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography

"Saturday's Child" is a poem by Countee Cullen, first published in 1925. The poem reflects on the speaker's experience growing up as a Black child in America, and the challenges and discrimination he faced because of his race.

Explanation:

The poem begins with the speaker reflecting on the traditional nursery rhyme "Monday's Child", which describes the characteristics of children born on each day of the week. The speaker notes that he was born on a Saturday, which according to the rhyme means he is "loving and giving." However, the speaker notes that the world has not always treated him kindly, due to his race. He describes the discrimination and hatred he has faced, and the way in which it has affected his sense of self-worth. The poem concludes with the speaker asserting his pride in his identity as a Black man.

Poetic Elements:

  • Form: The poem is written in free verse, with no set rhyme scheme or meter. The lines are of varying length and follow a loose structure.
  • Theme: The poem explores the theme of identity, racism, and self-worth.
  • Imagery: The poem uses vivid imagery to convey the sense of discrimination and hatred experienced by the speaker, as well as his pride in his identity as a black man.
  • Tone: The tone of the poem is reflective and introspective, as the speaker looks back on his life and experiences.
  • Sound: The poem makes use of repetition, with the phrase "Saturday's child" repeated throughout the poem. The use of alliteration and assonance creates a sense of musicality and movement.
  • Language: The language of the poem is direct and honest, with a focus on the speaker's personal experience.
  • Figurative language: The poem uses metaphor, such as the metaphor of the "scarlet stain" to describe the mark of racism on the speaker's identity, to convey the complexity and depth of the speaker's experience.
  • Structure: The poem is divided into three stanzas, each of which explores a different aspect of the speaker's experience and identity.
  • Symbolism: The reference to the traditional nursery rhyme "Monday's Child" serves as a symbolic representation of the speaker's search for identity and self-worth.
  • Emotion: The poem conveys a sense of pain, anger, and pride, as the speaker reflects on the challenges he has faced and asserts his identity and worth.

Conclusion:

"Saturday's Child" is a powerful and introspective poem that explores the complex issues of identity, racism, and self-worth. Through the use of vivid imagery, metaphor, and repetition, Countee Cullen captures the depth and complexity of the speaker's experience, and reflects on the possibility of pride and self-worth in the face of discrimination.


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