Views of the Harlem Renaissance: Art, Music & Poetry Hold fast to your dreams, for without them, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly. ~Langston Hughes~ Today, we would like to share with you art, music and poetry from the Harlem Renaissance as interpreted by your peers. Expectations:
Please listen, watch and respect the performances. You are here to have a cultural experience. You will reflect on this when you return to class. Also consider this as a review for your upcoming test. No texting or talking during this time, please. If so, you will be asked to visit your principals office. Enjoy! As you watch and listen, consider the following themes and how they are reflected throughout: *Emphasis
on Ancestry *Religion *Exclusion and Frustration *The Influence of Jazz *Empowerment Ancestry The Negro Speaks of Rivers Langston Hughes
Langston Hughes *Had his first pieces of verse published in the Central High Monthly, a sophisticated school magazine. *Hughes planned to return to Mexico to visit with his father, in order to try to convince him that he should pay for his son's college education at Columbia University in New York City. At Columbia, Hughes thought, he could get a college education but also begin his career as a writer. *On his way to Mexico on the train, while thinking about his past and his future, Hughes wrote the famous poem, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers.
*Hughes began regularly publishing his work in the Crisis magazine and got to know other poets like Cullen, McKay, W.E.B. DuBois and Johnson *He won first prize in the poetry section of Opportunity magazine and his first volume of poetry, titled The Weary Blues appeared in 1926 The Negro Speaks of Rivers I've known rivers: I've known rivers ancient as the world and older than the flow of human blood in human veins. My soul has grown deep like the rivers. I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young. I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it. I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln went down to New Orleans, and I've seen its muddy bosom turn all golden in the sunset. I've known rivers: Ancient, dusky rivers. My soul has grown deep like the rivers. Religion "Go Down Death James Weldon Johnson James Weldon
Johnson *Educated Atlanta University and Columbia Univ. *1st African American to be admitted to Florida bar after Reconstruction served in government & for NAACP *Became a Professor of Creative Literature at Fisk University * Publications/themes light operas and songs
*2 collections of spirituals, poetry, fiction, non fiction and autobiography *principal theme was black pride Go Down, Death Weep not, weep not, She is not dead; She's resting in the bosom of Jesus. Heart-broken husband--weep no more; Grief-stricken son--weep no more; Left-lonesome daughter --weep no more; She only just gone home. Day before yesterday morning,
God was looking down from his great, high heaven ,Looking down on all his children, And his eye fell of Sister Caroline, Tossing on her bed of pain. And God's big heart was touched with pity, With the everlasting pity. And God sat back on his throne, And he commanded that tall, bright angel standing at his right hand: Call me Death! And that tall, bright angel cried in a voice That broke like a clap of thunder: Call Death!--Call Death!
And the echo sounded down the streets of heaven Till it reached away back to that shadowy place, Where Death waits with his pale, white horses. And Death heard the summons, And he leaped on his fastest horse, Pale as a sheet in the moonlight. Up the golden street Death galloped, And the hooves of his horses struck fire from the gold, But they didn't make no sound. Up Death rode to the Great White Throne, And waited for God's command. And God said: Go down, Death, go down,
Go down to Savannah, Georgia, Down in Yamacraw, And find Sister Caroline. She's borne the burden and heat of the day, She's labored long in my vineyard, And she's tired She's weary Do down, Death, and bring her to me. And Death didn't say a word, But he loosed the reins on his pale, white horse, And he clamped the spurs to his bloodless sides, And out and down he rode, Through heaven's pearly gates,
Past suns and moons and stars; on Death rode, Leaving the lightning's flash behind; Straight down he came. While we were watching round her bed, She turned her eyes and looked away, She saw what we couldn't see; She saw Old Death. She saw Old Death Coming like a falling star. But Death didn't frighten Sister Caroline; He looked to her like a welcome friend.
And she whispered to us: I'm going home, And she smiled and closed her eyes. And Death took her up like a baby, And she lay in his icy arms, But she didn't feel no chill. And death began to ride again Up beyond the evening star, Into the glittering light of glory, On to the Great White Throne. And there he laid Sister Caroline On the loving breast of Jesus. And Jesus took his own hand and wiped away her tears,
And he smoothed the furrows from her face, And the angels sang a little song, And Jesus rocked her in his arms, And kept a-saying: Take your rest, Take your rest. Weep not--weep not, She is not dead; She's resting in the bosom of Jesus. Exclusion and Frustration Harlem A Dream Deferred I, Too
Langston Hughes Incident Countee Cullen Langston Hughes *Hughes, who claimed Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Carl Sandburg, and Walt Whitman as his primary influences, is particularly known for his insightful, colorful portrayals of black life in America from the twenties through the sixties. *He wrote novels, short stories and plays, as well as poetry, and is also known for his
engagement with the world of jazz and the influence it had on his writing, as in "Montage of a Dream Deferred. *Unlike other notable black poets of the periodClaude McKay, Jean Toomer, and Countee CullenHughes refused to differentiate between his personal experience and the common experience of black America. *He wanted to tell the stories of his people in ways that reflected their actual culture, including both their suffering and their love of music, laughter, and language itself. Harlem Here on the edge of hell
Stands Harlem Remembering the old lies, The old kicks in the back, The old Be patient They told us before Sure, we remember. Now, when the man at the corner store Says sugars gone up another two cents. And bread one, And theres a new tax on cigarettes We remember the job we never had, Never could get, And cant have now
Because were colored So we stand here On the edge of hell In Harlem And look out on the world And wonder What were gonna do In the face of what We remember. Harlem
What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over like a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode? I, Too
I, too, sing America. I am the darker brother. They send me to eat in the kitchen When company comes, But I laugh, And eat well, And grow strong. Tomorrow, I'll be at the table When company comes. Nobody'll dare Say to me,"Eat in the kitchen,
Then. Besides, They'll see how beautiful I am And be ashamed I, too, am America. Countee Cullen *Poet, anthologist, novelist, translator, children's writer, and playwright, Countee Cullen is something of a mysterious figure.
*Cullen was an outstanding student at DeWitt Clinton High School (1918-1921). *He edited the school's newspaper, assisted in editing the literary magazine, Magpie, and began to write poetry that achieved notice. Incident Once riding in old Baltimore, Heartfilled, head-filled with glee,I saw a Baltimorean Keep looking straight at me. Now I was eight and very small, And he was no whit bigger,And so I smiled, but
he poked out His tongue, and called me, "Nigger. I saw the whole of Baltimore From May until December;Of all the things that happened there That's all that I remember. Jazz My City Weldon Johnson & Weary Blues Langston Hughes
James Weldon Johnson *In 1900, he wrote the song "Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing on the occasion of Lincoln's birthday; the song which became immensely popular in the black community and became known as the "Negro National Anthem. *In 1920 he became the national organizer for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). *He edited The Book of American Negro Poetry (1922), a major contribution to the history of African-American literature. *His book of poetry God's Trombones (1927) was
influenced by his impressions of the rural South, drawn from a trip he took to Georgia while a freshman in college. It was this trip that ignited his interest in AfricanAmerican folk tradition. My City When I come down to sleep death's endless night, The threshold of the unknown dark to cross, What to me then will be the keenest loss, When this bright world blurs on my fading sight? Will it be that no more I shall see the trees Or smell the flowers or hear the singing birds Or watch the flashing streams or patient herds? No, I am sure it will be none of these.
But, ah! Manhattan's sights and sounds, her smells, Her crowds, her throbbing force, the thrill that comes From being of her a part, her subtle spells, Her shining towers, her avenues, her slums God! the stark, unutterable pity, To be dead, and never again behold my city! Weary Blues Droning a drowsy syncopated tune, Rocking back and forth to a mellow croon, I heard a Negro play. Down on Lenox Avenue the other night By the pale dull pallor of an old gas light
He did a lazy sway . . . He did a lazy sway . . . To the tune o' those Weary Blues. With his ebony hands on each ivory key He made that poor piano moan with melody. O Blues! Swaying to and fro on his rickety stool He played that sad raggy tune like a musical fool. Sweet Blues! Coming from a black man's soul. O Blues! In a deep song voice with a melancholy toneI I heard that Negro sing, that old piano moan-"Ain't got nobody in all this world,
Ain't got nobody but ma self. I's gwine to quit ma frownin' put ma troubles on the shelf." And Thump, thump, thump, went his foot on the floor. He played a few chords then he sang some more-"I got the Weary Blues And I can't be satisfied. Got the Weary Blues And can't be satisfied-I ain't happy no mo' And I wish that I had died.
And far into the night he crooned that tune. The stars went out and so did the moon. The singer stopped playing and went to bed While the Weary Blues echoed through his head. He slept like a rock or a man that's dead. Empowerment If We Must Die Claude McKay Tableau Countee Cullen Claude McKay
*Jamacian educated in brothers classroom & library *studied at Kansas State for 2 years Worked various odd jobs (wheelwright, cabinetmaker, opened a restaurant, janitor, butler) while writing poetry. Finally became editor for radical newspapers. *Belief in communism caused him to sign on as stoker in merchant shop and tour Russia for a year. Lived in France till 1934. * Influences English Romantic poets Wordsworth, Keats and Shelley *Themes ambivalent and defiant feelings about
African American life in US Countee Cullen *Cullen was a black man with considerable academic training who could, in effect, write "white" verseballads, sonnets, quatrains, and the like--much in the manner of Keats and the British Romantics, (albeit, on more than one occasion, tinged with racial concerns) with genuine skill and compelling power. *Cullen won more major literary prizes than any other black writer of the
1920s *He was the second black to win a Guggenheim Fellowship. 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, O 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!
O 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! Tableau Locked arm in arm they cross the way The black boy and the white, The golden splendor of the day The sable pride of night. From lowered blinds the dark folk stare
And here the fair folk talk, Indignant that these two should dare In unison to walk. Oblivious to look and word They pass, and see no wonder That lightning brilliant as a sword Should blaze the path of thunder. After viewing and listening to this experience, please take out a sheet of paper and a pen/pencil. a) Select one of the themes below. b) Get up & look at the Harlem artwork on the back wall and choose one that exemplifies your chosen theme.
c) Identify the artwork by the artist and go back to your seat. d) Describe the chosen piece in 3-4 sentences. e) Explain how it visually connects to the theme. *Emphasis on Ancestry *Religion *Exclusion and Frustration *The Influence of Jazz *Empowerment This is your ticket out of the Harlem Renaissance. Please hand it to your teacher on your way out. Bibliography Countee Cullen: http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/a_f/cullen/life.htm
James Weldon Johnson: http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/72 Langston Hughes: http://www.kansasheritage.org/crossingboundaries/page6e1.html Claude McKay: http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~wldciv/world_civ_reader/world_civ_reader_2/mckay.html *Artwork featured on the Smithsonians website
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