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Selected Poems for Freedom, Peace, and Love: Summary, Book Review Example

Pages: 6

Words: 1721

Book Review

The book selected poems for freedom, peace, and love is a masterpiece written by Leonard Slade Jr. The book consists of various poems written by Slade that highlight several themes. Slade is a gifted writer and poet, and he portrays some of his values in his poems, such as family, love, freedom, and education. Living as a black man in America motivated Slade to create his poems that depict the history of black people in America. Several poems talk about famous significant people in the black community like Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, and Martin Luther King Jr., to name a few. These poems portray these people’s life and views while fighting to end slavery and the freedom of black people. Therefore, this paper will analyze the themes and concepts in the poems and the literally devices used in the poems.

His poems illustrate how social constructs shaped the experiences of black people in the past. Black people faced numerous challenges in slavery, with white slave masters buying more slaves from Africa to work in their fields. They were oppressed and discriminated against, not to mention the violence most men and women endured during those difficult times. Slave masters raped women constantly and refused to acknowledge children arising from such unions; these children were born into slavery. In cases where a slave would make a mistake, their owners would whip and beat them mercilessly for their incompetence. Furthermore, the book highlights the significant individuals at the forefront of fighting slavery. These people fought to deliver their people from the hands of brutal white men. They are seen conducting activities such as marches protesting slavery practices and advocating for the rights of women and minority groups.

One such character is Harriet Tubman, a woman known exclusively for contributing to the Underground Railroad. The poet depicts the life of Harriet in the poem Harriet Tubman and explains how she fought to escape slavery and become “the conductor of the Underground Railroad” (Slade 12). Harriet struggled to fight for the freedom of her people and succeeded in saving several people by delivering them from bondage. The poem Sojourner Truth illustrates the life of women rights activist Sojourner Truth. Sojourner was born in slavery and oppression but struggled to escape and succeeded. She is a significant figure in historical woman’s rights activism as she fought bravely. A line from the poem “Protesting slavery and women subjugation” (Slade 13) depicts how Truth advocated for freedom for all people.

Slade writes a poem titled Medgar Evers, which speaks about the life of Medgar Evers, a civil rights activist born in Mississippi. Evers fought bravely for the freedom and rights of black people in America but unfortunately met his death after a white supremacist killed him. This further highlight the problems African American people faced while escaping slavery and subsequent efforts to end slavery. Slade talks about black history in his poems, with most of them focusing on oppression and tributes to people who helped end slavery. In another poem, John Brown, “the revolutionary’s faith in freedom” (Slade 11), he talks of John Brown, an American involved in ending slavery. Brown believed in freedom and hoped that the future would bring change and freedom for all. In Frederick Douglas, the author idealizes himself to share the same notions with Frederick Douglas. He hopes that America will change and end crime, needy individuals, and modern-day slavery in America today.

Children were also victims of slavery and black oppression; the poem Emmet Till. It is about a young boy, Emmet, who was accused of insulting a white woman, Carolyn Bryant. The young African American boy paid dearly for that wrongful conviction, as other white folks abducted, tortured, and killed him. “You returned to the bowels of the earth and ate worms” (Slade 24), signifying that the child died and was buried. Emmet had to face the challenges of being a black man in slavery at such a young age. People still face this oppression today, with other people discriminating against them based on their race. The poet depicts how crime against African Americans has never been a concern. The people who killed Emmet were acquitted of their crimes and faced no consequences of their action, providing a pathway into racial profiling that is rampant today. Black people are disadvantaged in most areas today. Slade highlights the significance of Abraham Lincoln in his fights against slavery. The poem Thank You, Abe!, thanks Abraham Lincoln for his contributions to creating a better future, a world free of injustices and full of freedom.

The other poem I came, I saw, I dreamed of is Abraham Lincoln’s tribute. Slade writes, “I see a country’s savior, healing people/ divided by war slain by an assassin’s bullet” (Slade 6). He depicts how Lincoln was like a hero brought forth to bring about change and a better tomorrow; sadly, Lincoln was assassinated. Furthermore, Slade highlights the theme of freedom in his poems. Freedom that most black men and women were happy to acquire after emancipation, most women sang freely and happily that they had finally acquired freedom. Many black people shed so much blood, sweat, and tears to acquire freedom. The poem Race shows how black people still feel the effects of slavery even after attaining freedom. “Where are their griefs to match my pain?” (Slade 19); the author recognizes the effect of slavery on people; they complain that whites do not understand their plight and claim slavery is in the past, not understanding the pain that most black people feel. The whites do not possibly understand the pain slavery inflicted upon many black people.

Some of these poems tend to celebrate black culture. The poem black and beauty highlights how despite the rejection most black people face due to their skin color, they should still see themselves as beautiful and perfect. Black culture and people are beautiful, and even though slavery reinforced the notion that black people were ugly and uncultured, this is not how they should view themselves, as everyone is beautiful and perfect. The poem God Put a Rainbow in the Sky, is a symbol of a better future. After the rain comes sunshine and a rainbow symbolizes rain stops. Therefore, Slade assures that after the treacherous past that slavery offered, there is hope for a better future full of freedom and equality.

The book is full of literary devices employed in creating the poems. The author uses literary devices to capture the reader’s attention and help communicate the point to the audience. Personification is frequently used in the poems; for instance, “until the sun bowed to her” and “blisters decorated her black fingers” (Slade 34) are examples of personification in the poem The Black Madonna. By giving humane actions to inhumane things, we can communicate the point further. The sun cannot bow down; this line means it was evening, and the sun was setting. The other line depicts how these women work so hard that they have blisters all over their hands. In Medgar Evers, “his truth kept marching on” (Slade 21) is personification because Truth is given the humane ability of marching. Although Evers was killed, his plans for freedom continued to be worked on.

“How bullets find apostles, presidents, and kings” (Slade 10), a line in Martin Luther King Jr., shows how easily kings and apostles can be killed. No matter your station and social class, death can still find you. In the poem For My Forefathers, personification is depicted in the form of “and darkness told master” (Sladev3). The darkness cannot speak, but here they use it to explain how darkness overcame slave masters and was pushed to rape and abuse black women. The poem Readers in Church portrays personalization as “The Bible rests precariously on the podium” (Slade 76) to display how the Bible is placed on the podium, and no one touches it because they are afraid of making a mistake.

Another literary device used in the book is Allusion, “The Moses of her people” (Slade 12). This is a form of biblical Allusion; here, Harriet is referred to as Moses; as he led people to the Promised Land, so did Harriet free her people from slavery. Similes are also used in this text; for instance, “my brown flesh still burns like charcoal from their whips and chains” (Slade 19); he compares the sting of being whipped by enslavers to that of charcoal burning, showing how painful it was. The other simile is “sometimes it laughs like a hyena” (Slade 2); he compares the laugh to that of a hyena known for laughing frequently. A metaphor is also used to compare two things but does not use the world. One of the metaphors in the text is “plantation owners were animals” (Slade 3), showing how they were brutal and abused women and children who were enslaved. They could exercise their control over people they had power over, and one could do nothing about it. “I have just combed woolly hair” (Slade 31); this compares black hair to wooly hair, which is difficult to comb but is still beautiful.

Repetition is used frequently in the poem, as cases of repeated lines are not foreign. The line “I’m free, thank God” (Slade 13) is repeated numerous times to reinforce that Sojourner Truth was finally free from slavery after numerous hard years. “We must remember” (Slade 23) is a line in the poem Martin Luther King Jr. to emphasize the importance of remembering Martin Luther King’s I have a dream. Symbolism is also present in this book “I see a rainbow in the sky” (Slade 28); the rainbow symbolizes a new beginning. Slavery has been abolished, and African Americans have a chance to start over and do what they want. There is a form of hyperbole in the line “his house bigger than the white house” (Slade 81); this is an exaggeration because one individual’s household cannot be as big as the white house.

In conclusion, the book selection of poems for freedom, peace, and love by Leonard Slade is a work of art that comprises numerous poems. These poems focus on slavery, black culture, and black history. Literary devices are essential when writing because they help convey the real message of the story while also capturing the audience’s attention.

Works Cited

Slade, Leonard A. Selected Poems for Freedom, Peace, and Love. Xulon Press, 2021.

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