An Annotation of Incident by Countee Cullen

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An Annotation of Incident by Countee Cullen Racial prejudice is a theme widely explored in numerous literary works, more specifically in poetry. Many poets have used elaborate language and complex structure to express their opinions about and/or experiences with racial discrimination. However, Countee Cullen, is one of the poets who use simple language and simple structure to tell his experience with racial prejudice. This essay argues that Countee Cullen’s Incident uses simple language, metaphors, and structure to express his complex sentiments for racial prejudice. He began his poem with a cheerful mood and ended it with a dramatic, unfortunate revelation. Clashing with the noticeable straightforwardness of its stanzas, Incident conveys a saddening childhood memory of racial injustice. First of all, the author starts off with a nostalgic stanza; a nostalgia that is filled with hope of meeting new people and gaining memorable experiences in Baltimore. He tells of his sojourn in Baltimore—‘once riding in old Baltimore’ (Literature for Composition 671)—with an emphasis on the word ‘old’ to perhaps inform his readers that Baltimore has changed a lot since the incident. Or perhaps to stress that ‘old’, racially prejudiced Baltimore is no more. Then he describes what he feels and thinks about while passing by ‘old’ Baltimore—‘heart-filled, head-filled with glee’ (Literature for Composition 671). He uses the words ‘heart’ and ‘head’ to express the delight that he felt and the hopeful thoughts that he has in seeing Baltimore. But instead of using the word ‘happiness’ he says ‘glee’, perhaps to moderate the intensity of his feelings. This gleeful emotions intensify when he suddenly encounters someone from Baltimore—‘I saw a Baltimorean’ (Literature for Composition 671); a Baltimorean that would quickly change his views of and hopes for Baltimore. He describes their
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