Margaret Walker and the Harlem Renaissance

analytical Essay
1435 words
1435 words

A Contemporary writer, living in a contemporary world, when she speaks of and for her people older voices are mixed with hers- the voices of Methodist forebears and preachers who preached the word, the anonymous voices of many who lived and were forgotten and yet out of bondage and hope made a lasting music. (Benet 3-4) For the purpose of this chapter, these words by Stephen Vincent Benet in his foreword to Margaret Walker’s first volume of poetry, For My People (1942) are really important. They give an idea about the richness of the literary heritage from which Walker started to write and to which she later added. This chapter is up to explore those “anonymous voices” in Walker’s poetry, the cultural and literary heritages that influenced her writings. Margaret Walker’s cultural heritage, like her biological inheritance, extends back to her ancestors in Africa and the Caribbean. It is quite genetic, something she got by birth; which is quite there just by being African American. Echoes of ancient myths, lost history, mixed bloods, and complex identities are brought about along with the skin colour and the racial origins. However, the anonymous voices echoed in Walker’s life and literature are not confined to her ancestral lands; they extend to include every culture known in America, the only land she had ever known. From birth to death, Walker never left America; the mostly white nation, whose culture is mainly derived from Europe. Walker received her education in white institutions and was taught by white teachers for a considerable part of her life. She was well versed in American, European; and world history, philosophy, and literature. She spoke English, French, and German. She read European and Russian world literature.... ... middle of paper ... ...ives in Post-Structural Criticism. Ed. Jouse V. Harari. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1984. Spears, Monroe K. Dionysus and the City: Modernism in Twentieth Century Poetry. New York: Oxford University Press, 1970. Traylor, Eleanor. ‘“Bolder Meauers Crashing Through’: Margaret Walker’s Poem of the Century.” Graham, Fields 110-138. Articles in Journals: Baraka, Amiri. “Afro-American Literature & Class Struggle.” Black American Literature Forum, Vol. 14, No. 1. (Spring, 1980): 5-14. JSTOR. Web. 6 May 2007. Price, Kenneth. “Whitman’s Solutions to ‘The Problem of the Blacks.’” Resources for American Literary Studies. Vol.15. (1985): 205-208. Turner, Darwin T. “ Introductory Remarks About the Black Literary Tradition in the United States of America.” Black American Literature Forum, Vol. 12, No. 4. (Winter, 1978): 140-177. JSTOR. Web. 5 May 2007.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how benet's foreword to margaret walker’s first volume of poetry, for my people, gives an idea about the richness of the literary heritage from which walker started to write and to which she later added.
  • Analyzes how the anonymous voices echoed in walker's life and literature are not confined to her ancestral lands; they extend to every culture known in america, the only land she had ever known.
  • Explains the purpose of this chapter is to explore the diverse cultural influences as demonstrated in margaret walker’s literature.
  • Explains that walker experienced two cultures and was involved in them both. she admired the african american literature that grew during her childhood and adolescence, the harlem renaissance.
  • Analyzes the influence of the harlem renaissance on margaret walker, who emerged as a promising poetic voice after the movement's end.
  • Describes the harlem renaissance as the period during which african american culture started to flourish in america.
  • Opines that margaret walker, who was born in 1915, should have fallen under the influence of the harlem renaissance.
  • Explains that walker was touched by the literary and intellectual fever of the time. she followed the main debates raised including participation in world war i or not, self-segregation or participation
  • Cites eliot, t.s. collected poems 1909-1962, hughes, langston, mayle, bessie, and walker.
  • Introduces maryemma graham's how i wrote "jubilee" and other essays on life and literature.
  • Cites whitman's "leaves of grass: authoritative texts, prefaces and harold w. blodgett.
  • Cites berke, nancy, bloom, hrold, and mccliff, michelle. the black woman as mulatto.
  • Cites collier, eugene, and graham, maryemma. fields watered with blood: critical essays on margaret walker.
  • Cites fields 11-27, herrington, eldrid, honey, maureen, and huggins, nathan irvin, in shadow dreams: women’s poetry of the harlem renaissance.
  • Cites hull, gloria t., jackson, blyden, and louis rubin. black poetry in america. baton rouge: louisiana university press, 1974.
  • Cites lewis, david levering, reid, margaret ann, riddle, joseph, and harari.
  • Explains that dionysus and the city: modernism in twentiethcentury poetry.
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