Countee Cullen was man who struggled to be called a “poet” instead of a “Negro poet.” His life during the Harlem Renaissance was filled with inequality and prejudice. These facts have lead many analysts to perceive his poem “Any Human to Another” as a cry for racial equality. However, Cullen’s manipulation of structure, imagery, and symbols in the poem reveals that his true theme is that all humans are individually unique but must live together in harmony and equality, caring for and helping each other.
The first technique Cullen uses to show his theme is the structure of the poem. “Any Human to Another” is made up of five stanzas: the first and second are six lines long, the third and fifth contain seven lines, and the fourth stanza is made up of only five lines. The author uses these varying lengths for a purpose; he wants the readers to see the way in which a variety of different types join together to form one poem. This is analogous to the way in which many unique people make up our society. The diversity of stanza length in the poem shows that the diversity of society in the world is a main contributing factor to our culturally enriched lives. Another example of how the structure of this poem relates to the theme is in the rhyme schemes of the five stanzas. Each part has several lines that rhyme with other lines in that stanza; however, the rhyme scheme of one stanza does not match with that of any other. This again shows the unique parts of each stanza that all go together to make one beautiful poem. Similar to the way this poem would lack excitement if it followed one rhyme pattern the whole way through, life would be not b...
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... means to express his opinion is the “little tent” in the second stanza. Cullen writes that no man is allowed his own “meadow of sun and shadow,” the sun being joyous feelings while the shadow is angst. No man deserves the privilege of indulging himself in “sun” while others in the world have troubles; on the other hand, no man should deal with the “shadow” of inequality without a friend or companion. As a member of the human race, each individual has their own duty to care for and help others.
Countee Cullen clearly has a message to spread through this poem. His structure of individual stanzas coming together, imagery of diversity and grief, and symbols of emotional bonds say one thing: society must be made of individual people who coexist in peace, aiding and respecting one another. This message is clearly a valuable truth we must all learn.
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