Saturday, June 15, 2013

My Dreams, My Works, Must Wait Till After Hell By Gwendolyn Brooks

Gwendolyn Brooks is an African American poet and was born in Topeka Kansas on 7th of June 1917 and brought up in Chicago since her childhood. As an African lady in America the racial issue affected her a lot. But with her creativity she could overcome the color bar barrier in America.  Gwendolyn won numerous awards including Pulitzer Prize for her strong role as a "black poet". The major struggle that she had to face was to win her life as an African American Poet with liberation.
This is a lyric poem and falls into the category of Shakespearian sonnet form with a rhyme scheme of ababcdcdefefgg. The rhyming words are quite different from standard English as she followed the language belong to the English spoken African people in America. According to Brooks this poem belongs to the category of ‘folksy narrative’ with first person narration.
The poem reflects on the experience gained by the African American people in between two cultures. One is the root/ native or the indigenous African culture and the other is the American culture where they got alienated. They suffered due to loss of identity, they became more patriotic and they were inspired to go back to their root culture. The poem ‘My dreams, my works…’ represents the narrator’s journey of hardship to the root culture. According to the narrator the present world is a ‘hell’. With a tone of despair the narrator is struggling to survive in a world that keeps holding her back. She or he endures much to be back at his or her roots to fulfill his or her hunger with ‘bread’ and ‘honey’. And at the same time make him/her as a complete. The speaker works hard and waits anxiously to achieve the goal. The goal can be the loss of identity. Most probably the narrator can be the poet. The hunger she has may be the hunger to write with her own identity. The social restrictions and barriers might have made her to lock up her desires which are represented through the metaphor of food. And the person is waiting by turning the face to a ‘puny light’ which shows the uncertainty of the time. Yet we see the perseverance, determination, endurance and the commitment of the person. The person’s imagination to go back to ‘home’ is clearly evident. Here the word ‘home’ suggests the narrator’s roots. This can be taken as a poem that celebrates the black identity or negritude metaphorically. Hunger and incompleteness in the present world are juxtaposed with taste and sensitivity of future with an indication of positive future for them. Moreover the comparison between ‘hell’ with ‘devil days’ and ‘home’ with ‘honey’ and ‘bread’ too indicates the same view. The poem can also remind us the words of a great leader ‘Martin Luther King’.

D.N. Aloysius

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