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Analysis and comments on A Black Man Talks of Reaping by Arna Bontemps

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Comment 17 of 113, added on April 5th, 2011 at 6:07 AM.
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Friendly Friend from United States
Comment 16 of 113, added on March 17th, 2011 at 4:45 AM.

It saddens me how many of the United States commenters on here were
completely blind to the obvious fact that this poem is talking about
racism. Obviously this poem could not be a "metaphor for how the older
generations did all the work, but the newer generations reap all the
benefits" as the poem distinctly states that it is a "small wonder [the
man;s] children glean in fields they hav not sown, & feed on bitter fruit"
aka they are forced to steal fruit to eat because their father is only
allowed "what the hand can hold at once" in grain. They are not reaping any
benefits. The white man is. The idea that he;s "paying consequences for his
actions" is also exceedingly blind as the man is breaking his back in the
fields. His actions are good, he merely has no power in his society and is
unable to reap the benefits of his hard work. It is not his fault. It is
the white man;s. This poem was written during the Harlem Renaissance by a
black man who lived between 1902 and 1973. Whatever one wants to read into
this poem;s deeper meaning, one must understand that this is a poem
regarding racism and oppression and written by a proponent of civil rights.
Do not be blind. Understand this nation;s history. When trying to
understand a poem it is always important to understand the author and the
time period.
p.s. I hate sql syntax. Considering the fact that I am NOT USING whatever
it is and yet am being repeatedly told, no matter what I change, that I
have a problem with it and therefore the site won;t upload my comment.
p.p.s it seems the system just does not like apostrophes. hence the
semicolons...sorry

Person from United States
Comment 15 of 113, added on February 5th, 2011 at 6:16 PM.
a black man talks of reaping

The poet uses the metaphor of sowing found in the New Testament, including
his desire to avoid the pitfalls of too shallow planting (being heard by
people who do not have any depth of thought) or the loss of "fowls of the
air" (when people are distracted from an important message and lose it).
You can interpret this poem in several ways depending on how he uses the
word "brother". In the Christian sense, it means any other man; but if he
uses it in a more limited sense, he could be referring to other black men
who perhaps do not share his vision, his views, and his ethics. In any
case, we all fear that the work we have done may not be valued as time
wears on, and we all mourn for loss of opportunities that our children may
suffer because of others carelessness or greed. The worst oppression is
that inflicted on ourselves when we limit our vision and our goals.

Terri from United States
Comment 14 of 113, added on December 15th, 2010 at 10:37 PM.

Oppression is definitley a key idea in this poem. This person works so hard
and is not even shown any appreciation for what he does, because of his
skin color.

Jess from United States

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Information about A Black Man Talks of Reaping

Poet: Arna Bontemps
Poem: A Black Man Talks of Reaping
Added: Jan 31 2004
Viewed: 33775 times
Poem of the Day: Aug 23 2000


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