Poem Summary

Tableau
A poem about overcoming racial segregation, with a hopeful attitude. Contains two boys, one black and one white, that walk on a public street, arm in arm. Many people question and wonder about their relationship as the boys are oblivious to any wrongdoings. A poem by Countee Cullen.

Incident
A poem about a young black child. Absolutely ecstatic to be visiting Baltimore, the child looks at a young white child and smiles. However, the white child then looks at the speaker and shouts racial slurs. The mood & tone goes from total exuberance to absolute shamefulness. A poem by Countee Cullen.

America
The speaker of this poem describes a “she” that mistreats him greatly yet he still loves her. The toils she gives him only seem to make him stronger. He stands tall in the “walls” and looks ahead to see “…her might and granite wonders there,
Beneath the touch of Time’s unerring hand,
Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand.” A poem by Langston Hughes.

I, Too
A poem with an empowering message to all mistreated and segregated blacks of the 1930s. The speaker writes proudly that he is indeed an American, too. Not allowing the color of his skin to define him, he laughs when sent away to eat in the kitchen. He says that they will one day be ashamed because he is beautiful and closes the poem by reiterating the fact that he is an American. A poem by Langston Hughes.

The River Merchant’s Wife
A poem that contains many shifts in tone. With each stanza, the speaker (a Chinese child/teen/young woman) becomes more and more in love with her husband. What seems to be an arranged marriage, she is unhappy with him at first. Keeping her head down and constantly bashful. But by the 3rd stanza, she is completely and 100% in love with him. She wishes for her “dust to be mingled with [his]
Forever and forever and forever.” But, as the poem progresses, she becomes sad. For he is gone to work as a river merchant which requires him to be away for much of the year. He is very sorry for this, too. (indicated by his “dragged feet”) The end is hopeful with the closing of “If you are coming down through the narrows of the river Kiang,
Please let me know beforehand,
And I will come out to meet you” A poem (translated) by Ezra Pound.

The Red Wheelbarrow
This is a poem that is not to be taken at face-value… Or is it? Opening with “So much depends..” and continuing by describing a mundane scene, the reader is confused as to WHAT so much depends upon. An imagist poem by William Carlos Williams.

This is Just to Say
This is a poem that we described in class as “a found object” poem. This poem contains no punctuation. (Which implies a little but of ambiguity.) Written as if it were a note on the kitchen table, this imagist poem was written by William Carlos Williams.

Poetry
A poem about poetry. The speaker describes her love/hate relationship with poetry. She opens with “I, too, dislike it..” It contains much irony. Very vivid images but they are incoherent due to line enjambment. I had to read carefully. Poem by Marianne Moore.