If We Must Die Essay Sample
This poem by Claude McKay who was an eminent and influential writer of the famous Harlem Renaissance is a strong and unique political poem. He used technique of classical poetry known as sonnet. McKay uses metaphors, rhyme scheme and regular rhythm to personify and associate this poem. By use this technique, the writer can be able to identify with the poem itself and with the writer. This poem is “revolutionary, it can be described as the type of poem, which makes many people think and take action.”(Claude and Max 34).
In the very first line of this sonnet, “If we must die, let it not be like hogs”. The author expounds that, if humans die in any situation, it should not be inhumane, unjust or like animals. The poem portrays that everyone in the world deserves a death full of respect and honor not being ill treated and beaten like a wild animal but be treated like a noble human being. “IF we must die, O let us nobly die”. Means that even though people might be maimed and severely beaten, should not sit and take all the punishment. That the person’s last breath is of victory because he or she never got tired of fighting back. In line ten, “O Kinsmen! We must meet the common foe!” McKay offers courage and inspiration to continue with the quest and fight for equality.
Using strong words, the author makes the readers feel recognized and important, “resulting to influencing of people like Amiri Baraka who starts the Black Arts Movement.”(Stanford 75).When MacKay published this unique poem; African Americans were undergoing fierce times, as there were many racial problems between Blacks and Whites leading to violence. There were tremendous race riots in many parts of United States and especially in Harlem. By use of sonnet, this poem became an anthem of the New Negro Movement and the Harlem Renaissance.