Essay on An Analysis of Countee Cullen's Any Human to Another

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An Analysis of Countee Cullen's “Any Human to Another”

Countee Cullen was man who struggled to be called a “poet” instead of a “Negro poet.” His life during the Harlem Renaissance was filled with inequality and prejudice. These facts have lead many analysts to perceive his poem “Any Human to Another” as a cry for racial equality. However, Cullen’s manipulation of structure, imagery, and symbols in the poem reveals that his true theme is that all humans are individually unique but must live together in harmony and equality, caring for and helping each other.

The first technique Cullen uses to show his theme is the structure of the poem. “Any Human to Another” is made up of five stanzas: the first and
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A second way the theme of this poem can be seen is through imagery. The first glimpse of this is in stanza one: Cullen writes, “Pierce to the marrow…and past the bone.” This passage provokes feelings/images of pain in our minds, addressing the same pain one feels when shunned in the world, whether on the basis of appearance, gender, nationality, etc. This describes the part of the theme that says people must care for each other. When pain pierces one’s heart, Cullen proposes that these feelings must “Be fused and mingle, diverse yet single,” with others’, as he states in the second stanza. His meaning is that individuality is good but people must help each other; this is the path to an equal society where all are accepted. A final example of imagery is the “shining and unsheathed” description of a blade in the last stanza. Cullen wants the reader to perceive grief as dangerous and ready to strike. Along with reiterating the fact that all humans must help one another, Cullen now states an ultimatum: either society works to eliminate grief, or they can never be truly content with their lives. The “sword” of grief will come down on the public if they cannot coexist. The unique characteristics of each human being must be cherished and respected, not rejected and ridiculed.

The final technique Cullen uses to illustrate his theme in “Any Human to Another” is symbolism. In the first
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