Themes of Poems Written during the Harlem Renaissance

The major themes present in the poems written during the Harlem Renaissance are race and suffering. The theme of suffering is present in both poems as the poets are trying to explain the effects of racism and inequality on their lives. It is evident that both poets are not comfortable living in America, despite their desire to belong just like the whites. As a result of this, they are suffering as they stay in an unwanted society, where they are discriminated and treated unequal to other human beings.

In the poem America, various lines have been used to describe the suffering of the African Americans. In the first and second line, the statement “Although she feeds me bread of bitterness, And sinks into my throat her tiger’s tooth”, symbolism has been used to describe what America is doing to the poet. The bread of bitterness signifies the evil things that African Americans are exposed to in the country (McKay, 1921). There is a certain way of treatment that is specifically set aside for them. Basically, these people are feeling left out in a place where they have grown to know as home. In The Weary Blues, various lines in the poem also depict suffering of the African Americans. The voice of the narrator in line 10 states “He made the poor piano moan with melody”. This makes it clear that the issue being discussed in the poem is one of sadness, just as line 13 supports. The lines 19 and 20 highlighted above prove the suffering of the individual in the poem (Seaman, 2015). When it comes to a point where a person declares that he has nobody in the world, it triggers a sad atmosphere that makes the audience feel pity, due to the thought of suffrage. Line 22 clearly states “And put ma troubles on the shelf”, showing that the narrator is indeed suffering.

The theme of race is basically present in both poems. The topic being focused on is how African Americans are trying to fight for their rights as Americans too. In both accounts, the poets are trying to show the audience how their life is, as Americans with African descent. Therefore, both poems feature a comparison of the whites, and the African American individuals.

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