Tuesday, January 27, 2009

40 acres

This poem uses people and animals to represent not only Barack Obama and the African-American race, but the diverse types of responses from the American public. The young ploughman is representative of Obama, who also represents the accomplishments of the African-American race as a whole. There are "crows with predictable omens." They use the pun of "crow" to allude to the Jim Crow laws, which protected unfair treatment of African-Americans. There are "bespectacled owls," which I interpreted as believers or supporters in Obama, who are in amazement at the accomplishment of Obama and African-Americans as a whole. There is also a "gesticulating scarecrow stamping with rage at him [ploughman]" which I believe represents critics (probably due to race) who are upset that Obama has succeeded.
There are other puns and metaphors in the poem, such as the cotton field being 40-acres wide, which alludes to the broken promise offered to former slaves of a retribution of 40-acres and a mule. Also, in the poem "the small plough continues on this lined page," which could compare the plow in the slavery times to the pen today. Work must continue to be done, also alluding to the ploughman clearing the way for more things to come. The could represent this accomplishment clearing the way for new opportunities that are now more possible than ever. Towards the end of the poem, the narrator mentions that the ploughman feels a change in his "veins,/heart, muscles, tendons." These are all things that are vital for life and function. Also, the veins may allude to heritage, familial ties, and past history; parts of which are being overcome now with these new accomplishments.

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