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"hippy Era" Poetry

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The Hippy era was a time in United States history when massive changes were made. Boundaries were challenged and crossed in literature and art, the government was confronted head-on for its policies in Vietnam; and the cause of civil rights was embraced by the young. This was a time of growth not only as a country but for people as individuals. People were standing up for their personal right to do what they felt they wanted to do. This was a time of change for the civil rights movement and women's movement. The two poems that I have chose center on the civil rights movement during the 1960's and how it affected people.

I personally like reading about the 60's because of how much the world changed during just a decade in time. There countless marches, protests, murders and beatings that happened during this time, but these poems symbolize what happened. The poems I chose tell the story of how the people felt when everything was going on during the 60's.

The first poem is, Emmett Till by James A. Emanuel written in 1968 at the end of the decade.

Emmett Till

I hear a whistling

Through the water

Little Emmett

Won't be still.

He keeps floating

Round the darkness,

Edging through

The silent chill.

Tell me, please,

That bedtime story

Of the fairy

River Boy

Who swims forever,

Deep in treasures

Necklaced in

A coral toy.

I found this poem to be very good for the time that it was written because of what the poem said to me. When I read this I see the little boy it's about and what happened to him. The poem was written about a 14 year old boy that was lynched in 1955 for allegedly making sexual advances towards a white girl. America for all of its advances still had a strong sense of racism during this time. It was during the 60's that a major advancement was made in prejudice towards the blacks in America. What the poem says to me though is that it's not forgotten. That little boy may be dead but what he represents isn't going to just disappear into the ground with him.

The poem says that “He keeps floating” and “won't be still” meaning that what he represents isn't gone. I see Emmett Till as representing the movement of the blacks to gain the same rights as the whites. This poem is saying that they aren't going to lie down and take it anymore, but keep bothering people until they get what they want. The people are going to keep coming back even if you kill them you can't ignore who they are. This was written the same year that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was shot and killed in Memphis and proves my theory. His teachings and his speeches lived on even after he was shot and died. The people didn't forget what he had said because he planted a seed of hope and a drive to achieve something they never thought they could.

The other poem that I chose goes along with this idea very well and was only written 2 years earlier. This poem was also written in heart of the revolution in the 60's. This poem has some beautiful lines that made me just feel what the people who were fighting for their rights must have been thinking and feeling. The thought of having nothing and finding your own will to fight for your right is amazing to me. The poem is Frederic Douglass by Robert Hayden written in 1966.

Frederick Douglass

When it is finally ours, this freedom, this liberty, this beautiful

And terrible thing, needful to man as air,

Usable as earth; when it belongs at last to all,

When it is truly instinct, brain matter, diastole, systole,

Reflex action; when it is finally won; when it is more

Than the gaudy mumbo jumbo of politicians:

This man, this Douglass, this former slave, this Negro

Beaten

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