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The Sun Rises
Mankind, through its hardships and struggles, has created many outlets to tell of its trials and tribulations. People have a need to relate their stories to other people. Music, art, prose, cinema, and poetry are among some of the most common types of storytelling. Poetry is one of the oldest and strongest forms of telling a story. It has often been used to chronicle the hardships of a group of people who were held back from many personal freedoms our society takes for granted. Gwendolyn Brooks' people have had one of the hardest struggles placed upon any of the races that make up America. Brooks touches upon the hardships of her people and their ancestors in many of her poems. In 'To the Diaspora,'; Brooks uses the metaphors of the continent of Afrika, a road (or a journey), the sun, and a few others to tell of the struggle of African-Americans in the United States.
The first metaphor the narrator speaks of is of the continent of Afrika. The word Afrika is used to mean a group of people and not the literal meaning of a continent of land. More specifically, these people are African-Americans. The 'Black continent'; she speaks of is a unification of her people (5). The narrator is telling her ancestors that they need to unite to make any progress. In the passage: 'You did not know the Black continent to be reached was you,'; she is telling her people, past and present, that the way to achieve their goals is within them (5-7). The narrator uses the word Afrika instead of
Africa to distinguish between the continent and the meaning she has placed upon the word. Through this metaphor the word Afrika comes to mean a continent of people, and their goals to achieve equality, instead of a continent of land.
The next metaphor the narrator speaks of is one of a journey or way over a road. Gwendolyn speaks about her people setting out for Afrika. In the beginning of the poem we know that the people are beginning a journey but they do not know their destination. This gives us a glimpse into how hard the struggle of African-Americans must have been in the beginning of slavery. As the poem progresses into the second stanza, a road emerges and this lets us know that the narrator's people are getting some ideas about where they should be going.
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Another metaphor used in 'To the Diaspora'; is the metaphor of the sun. In the second stanza the sun makes its first appearance as a foreshadowing. The sun represents progress and freedom. In the beginning her people do not believe that these things are
possible. The longer the people who are Afrika tread, more of the sun appears 'somewhere over the road'; and they can actually see the sun with their own eyes, and not
just hear promises made by the narrator (10). The people of Afrika actually see the sun in the last stanza and know they have made some progress, but the emphasis of 'Some'; sun also casts light onto their path and they see how much farther they have to go (19).
There are two more metaphors in the poem by Brooks that are vital to the story. One is the metaphor of diamonds. When the sun appears it comes 'evoking the diamonds'; (11). These diamonds represent those African-Americans who made a difference and brought pride upon their race. The sharp contrast between the diamonds shining up through the 'Black continent'; delivers a crippling blow to the derogatory connotations placed upon the word black (5). The second metaphor is the comparison of the final steps to a 'dissonant and dangerous crescendo'; (22). This evokes images of a heated battle between the African-Americans and their oppressors. In paraphrasing the quotation it would be sufficient to say that the last struggles are similar to out-of-key notes that are only going to get louder.
Gwendolyn Brooks' poem, 'To the Diaspora,'; is written with such skill that a reader without previous knowledge of the struggles of the African-American in the United States would be moved after reading it. Her use of metaphors makes the poem beautiful and thought provoking at the same time. The author uses poetry to relate the story of her and her people to the audience, as a painter would use paint to make a mural. This poem is one poem that cannot be easily dismissed by anyone.