A Comparison of Poems against Racism

Racism is intolerance and hatred of another race. Many protest poems are used by composers in society to express their desire for social change. “Strange fruit” by Lewis Allen and “took the children away” by Archie Roach are haunting lyrics protesting against the area of racism. Both poets have been influenced by either personal events or events occurring in society. Both Allen and Roach effectively use strong poetic techniques and pursue subject matter to the audience through racism to create a desire for social change in the society. Strange fruit” was written in the mid-1930s about 60 years ago. Lewis Allen whom is a Jewish American communist had seen a photo in the paper of two young boys that had been beaten and hung. This horrific picture encouraged Allen to take action and write this lyric protesting about the lynching that had occurred in Americas South. Allen saw that the lynching of African Americans was generational. He protested against racism to create a desire in society for social change. The powerful techniques shown through the lyric “strange fruits” are extended metaphor and physical imagery.

Extended metaphor is shown throughout the whole lyric as it is continuous which makes it more powerful. This helps the reader relate to the horrific situation and understand how Allen is feeling about the lynching. The physical imagery that is portrayed in the lyric is “the bulging eyes and twisted mouth”. This shows the haunting image of a person being hung and draws the responders attention to the strong confronting words used to describe the dead ”black bodies”. The lyric is extremely confronting and distressing which is deliberately shocking to the audience in attempt to create a desire for social change. Took the children away” was written in 1990 by an indigenous Australian Archie Roach. He had a very difficult life by having a disturbed background and childhood. He was sadly removed from his family at a very young age which was known as “the stolen generation”. The difficulties that he had suffered as a child encouraged Roach to become a protest poet and stand up for the indigenous Australians. Roaches lyric produces a true story about the aboriginal children that had been forcefully detached from their families.

The lyric is extremely confronting to the audience which creates them to feel the desire for social change. There are many poetic techniques employed throughout the lyric “took the children away” that encourage the responder to understand the racism and concept of the stolen generation. First person technique has been used strongly by Roach in attempt to show that it was his personal recount. This is shown in the finishing line of the lyric “yes I came back”. This visibly shows the responder that is was roach himself.

Anaphora is a strong technique used effectively in the lyric. This is clearly shown in the last stanza “back to their mother; father, sister, brother, people, land” this shows how the indigenous children had been taken from their family and then later reunited. Therefore both techniques clearly shock the audience and connect with the responders emotions in order to make them see the need for social change. In conclusion “strange fruits” by Lewis Allen and “took the children away” by Archie Roach are clearly both powerful protest lyrics protesting against racism.

The poetic techniques are used effectively to get their own personal opinion across to the audience. Therefore these effects show that there is a need to create a desire for social change in the society. Many protest songs and poems are used by composers in society to express their desire for social change. Archie Roach’s ‘Took The Children Away’ and Lewis Allen’s ‘Strange Fruit’ are both protest poems in which the area of racism is being protested against. Each poet has been inspired by either events in their life or events in society that they have felt deeply against.

Both Roach and Allen adequately and effectively use a wide range of poetic techniques and language devices to successfully carry out their ideas against racism and create a desire for social change through subject matter their purposes are also achieved. Roach strongly uses first person along with anaphora to get his point of view across to the responder. Allen persuasively uses extended metaphor and juxtaposition to make the responder see the need for social change. Archie Roach is an indigenous Australian with a disturbed back ground and upbringing.

He was removed from his family at young age as part of ‘the stolen generation’ Roach’s devastating childhood experiences inspired him to develop into a powerful protest poet and be a strong voice for indigenous Australians. A haunting story is told through roach’s song, a true story of aboriginal children being forcefully removed from their family as was done to thousands of aboriginal children during the application of the governments assimilation policies. It is a very confronting song that makes the responder feel a desire for social change. Took The Children Away’ is a protest poem which employs many powerful poetic techniques to encourage the responder to understand the effects and the injustices of racism and the stolen generation. One poetic technique from the lyric that can be highlighted as important is first person as it is very strongly used by roach in an attempt to display himself in the poem. First person is most effective in the finishing line of “yes I came back” this is effective because the responder then finally realises that the poem is in fact a recount of what actually happened to Roach.

Anaphora is also successfully used in the poem. In the last stanza anaphora is powerfully used by roach, “Back to their mother; father, sister, brother, people, land” this anaphora is used in order to state all the things that had been left behind and taken away from indigenous children of the time. The anaphora connects with the responder’s emotions in an attempt to shock the responder therefore making them see the need for social change. Lewis Allen was a Jewish man, a school teacher and also a member of the American communist party which was risky and unusual in its self at the time of the 1930’s.

Allen was inspired to right by a photograph of a lynching he saw that shocked him. The subject matter of the poem is about the lynching of African Americans in Americas south. Allen saw the harsh injustices of racism and how it was generational “Blood on the leaves and blood at the root. ” He protested against racism in order to create a desire in society for social change. Lewis Allen uses a range of poetic techniques and language devices in order to effectively get his purpose across to the responder. The extended metaphor of “strange fruit” is a very strong and helpful device.

It makes the responder think about the harsh realities and injustices of racism in Americas south the word “strange” makes the responder comprehend the idea of lynching, it is “strange” not right, and it is unjust. Juxtapositions is also employed by Allen in the poem “Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh/ Then the sudden smell of burning flesh” this juxtaposition is effective as it makes the responder see the harsh realities of lynching by putting these two things together it shocks the responder as it is from one extreme to the other and Allen is attempting to shock the audience in an attempt to create a desire for social change.

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