Comparing the Dunbar's Poem "We Wear the Mask and McKay's Poem "If We Must Die"

Topics: Claude Mckay

This paper will compare the poem: We Wear the Maskall by Paul Laurence Dunbar with the poem written by Claude McKay called Ai we Must Die.) These two poems were written in America during a time when the oppression of black society was at an all-time high. They both deal with different issues wth in black oppression during the late 1800s and early 18008ils. Also, the two poems differ by only about a difference a decade from the two literary masterpieces.

This Was a time when there was no voice for black society. Not many people # any during that era who ‘chose to write about black oppression were able to get published. These two poets were some of the early pioneers that helped battle the inequality placed on black people. Written in sonnet form, but not in the typical Italian or Shakespearean form, instead of written in one of their own pioneered styles of poetic justice.

The two sonnets are of two different structures and forms.

The first is of the two sonnets Act We Must Die by Claude Mckay which has the typical 14 ines and this is compared to the poem by Paul Laurence Dunbar who wrote alive Wear the Mask which has 15 lines, but two of which are shorter than the other 13. The thyme scheme of a typical sonnet is different as well. Besides the typical Italian sonnet which has the fast & ines as ab b an ab b a typical chyme scheme with variation after or as the typical Shakespearean sonnet which follows the rhyme scheme ababcdcdetelg these two poems follow their rhyme scheme.

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Claude McKay uses the rhyme scheme ab ABC dedefetgg while Paul Laurence Dunbar uses the rhyme scheme aabbecabdeeftcd. The din the sonnet rhyming scheme that is the shorter verse and is half of the size of the other rhyming lines in Paul Laurence Dunbar’s sonnet, which makes it seem like the typical 14-line sonnet we are used to, Showing that this was a time when they needed to make their way.

The 1900Airs were not a good time for black families. The fact that anyone black during that time was published is surprising to me. They most likely had to cut so much red tape to get published that we could never understand what they had to go through just to get their works noticed. In 1919 tight before these two poems were published there was a wave of race ots where some bigots were going into black neighborhoods and assaulting people just based on race alone. During Paul, Dunbardtis’s time was the beginning of segregation and the start of the Jim Crow laws that were put in during the 1891 22nd legislature. Tensions were building up from the civil war and black people
were starting to own businesses and take office. Oppression was on the rise at an exponential pace. has surprising that these two authors were even able to get published at this time. Paul Dunbar was the first African-American poet to gain national acceptance in America, Which Lead to poems such as asi We Must Diealt by Claude Mckay and other amazing poems as well.

The two poems differ in message and tactics in their effort to help deal with the end of Inequality. One is a message of action and while the other is a message of Dali Lama Zen. Paul Laurence Dunbar illustrates a method of Gandhi’s efficiency that tells African Americans to turn the other cheek and don’t let others see them stifle. Showing that with the lack of black people caring about the hate-mongering of Americans, just like the high school prom queen they might forget their hate when they see its effects, Whereas Claude McKay states if we must die, O let Ls nobly die telling victims of race riots to stand up and fight back. Each valid point deals with the question of why should we as a people have to deal with the hate of ignorance. One mentality of we leave them to dwell alone with their hate then they will have no choice but to hate themselves, The other mentality of dona take violence lying down, Both amazing literary pieces that tried to help take a world that was spiraling out of control and help it put it back into perspective. They took a literary window of opportunity that was opened up to them and made a sonnet rhyme scheme of their own to help illustrate the hate of the world around themksndv;| Both poets showed to the world through sonnet that Americandiis shouldn’t have to be bothered with the hate of trivial minds. Using two different messages of how to get the message of equality to their reader. The two even have two different styles of sonnets, but they still speak poetry in a rhyming structure of togetherness. Together with completing the goal of a masterpiece of poetic equality.

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Comparing the Dunbar's Poem "We Wear the Mask and McKay's Poem "If We Must Die". (2022, Jun 12). Retrieved from

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