Negritude Essay

1353 WordsApr 13, 20126 Pages
Léon Gontran Damas and Aimé Césaire on Nègritude In their poems, Léon Gontran Damas and Aimé Césaire both explore and expound upon what it is to be black. These men were bedfellows in their heyday, and they both wrote around nègritude, a term referring to acceptance and celebration of blackness in spite of nationality or culture, that they coined alongside Léon Sédar Senghor. Damas’ poetry tends to be blunt and raw, yet also very profound; that is to say, the reader can tell right away how Damas feels about his subject material at any given time, but can’t always tell exactly what he is really writing about without closer examination. The language is plain, but there is still vivid imagery. On the other hand, Césaire’s Notebook of a Return to the Native Land is not blunt at all, but uses dazzling images and metaphors to craft his masterpiece. The style switches frenetically from a flowing sort of prose to an explosive lyric. Césaire’s language is much more complex, much more difficult to decipher. Rather than having decisive ends to stanzas like Damas tends to do, sometimes Notebook has abrupt, choppy transitions; perhaps the poem is living up to its name as a “notebook”, a rough but beautiful predecessor of a never-polished final draft. In spite of their differences, these two authors also maintain some similarities. There is much use of alliteration, and rhythm, the latter of which is often caused by the former two. The repetition of effect seems to help emphasize the emotion, be it joy or suffering. The alliteration adds a richness, a stream of tones that pour smoothly from the throat. There is often a rhythm which infuses a kind of music to the silent roar send out from the pages. Also, the poetry of both Damas and Césaire possess an intense profundity which forces the reader to look behind the black and white to find

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