According to the field of Human Psychology, it is said with emphasis both by renowned professional experts and human psychologists that both the human individual’s emotions and knowledge can be expressed in a variety of ideological ways, as a means of representing what is inside him or her, in an in-depth sense.
As a result, the concerned individual results in the inclination of upholding his or her great love and interest both for Poetry and Literature, as a means of providing one’s self both therapeutic and long-lasting relief, as he or she releases his or her inner sentiments and feelings through creative and literary writing.
In relation to what has been discussed above, human rights poems paved the way for the creation of a platform of expression, wherein an address of concerns, insights and points of view are visible and heard in the public’s keen eye and listening ear, which in return, influences them to be driven changemakers in the long run.
In this article, we will discuss the top 5 different human rights poems that made a great mark and imprint to the holistic image and reputation that Human Rights has attained all over the world, at present, wherein the society is at the time of contemporary modernity. Let us begin.
The Top Five Transformative Human Rights Poems
Long beforehand, writers and literary gifted enthusiasts have proven evidently that both Human Rights and Poetry have an interconnection with each other during the earlier times in the United States of America setting.
In comparison to prose, the rules that govern Poetry have a distinct nature that can be both broken and bent, in order to provide writers the freedom to use a choice of words, which is greatly similar as paint on a canvas.
In addition, as a result of the bent and broken rules of Poetry, the literary pieces and forms that represent it have the immense and tremendous ability in provoking empathy, as a direct emotion.
Inspirationally, numerous poets took the opportunity of harnessing their innate talents, in order to garner the public’s attention, on the real state and scenario of human rights and as a means of expression to their in-depth feelings of complexity.
Below are the top five poems that greatly represent the contribution of Poetry to the entire and total scope of Human Rights as follows:
“I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou was catapulted into the pedestal of literary stardom as she made a great mark during the time wherein Human Rights was at the peak of influencing motivated and purpose-driven individuals.
Maya Angelou was born in the year 1928. She was renowned in the United States of America for her creative inclination on writing essays, memoirs and various forms of Poetry.
Despite her death in the year 2014, her legacy continued through the poetic work that she made in the year 1969 entitled: “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings”.
The poem depicts a direct story of her earlier life phase that was disrupted at a tender state because of sexual abuse. Because of that horrendous disruption during her early life, Maya Angelou resorted to writing poetry as a means of coping from that experience and in moving forward with life, positively.
In an in-depth sense, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” features a contrasting element between two birds and in the perspective of their individual lives, wherein the first bird is free which makes it fly whenever it desires, while on the other hand, the second bird is caged which impedes it to fly freely.
In a realistic sense, in the point of view of the American society during Maya Angelou’s lifetime, the free bird is a vivid representation of the White Americans; while on the contrary, the caged bird is the visible representation of the black Americans.
Below is a portion of the impactful poem of Maya Angelou as follows:
The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill
of things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom.
As a means of emphasis, the holistic imagery of the poem can be greatly adapted in situations wherein the entirety of the marginalized groups are clumped in a hostage that are brought by the impartial systems, so to speak.
In entirety, “Caged Bird” gives the reader a dual challenge of both taking action and in hearing the song, clearly.
“Let America Be America Again” by Langston Hughes
At the peak of the period of the Harlem Renaissance, in the United States of America, Langston Hughes played a great and contributory role, most especially during the 1920’s which was regarded as the prevalent period of black literature, art and intellectualism.
Born in the year 1902, Langston Hughes played an innovative role in the realms of “Jazz Poetry”, and at the same time, he exerted his creative efforts into writing plays and short stories, respectively.
Despite his death in the year 1967, his highly impactful poem entitled “Let America Be America Again” which was published in 1936 specifically in Esquire, made a great contribution in the upliftment of the lives of the black Americans on a holistic level.
In addition, Langston Hughes famous poem was written by him personally, during his train ride originating from New York to Ohio, respectively.
Despite the influence that his poem has brought to the entirety of the Black Americans living in the United States, Langston Hughes greatly considers the time when he wrote his poem, as a difficult point of his life.
As a means of expounding the aforementioned point, the reasons behind that difficult time are first, his beloved mother was unfortunately diagnosed with Breast Cancer, and second, his first ever Broadway play was not successful in garnering great reviews, relatively.
As a means of emphasis, Langston Hughes also came to a point in his life, wherein he was greatly affected by the prevalent racism and criticism that he garnered from the community that he lived in, yet it did not in any way hinder him to continue with what he has started as a mission that he has set for himself, on a lifetime basis.
In an in-depth analysis, Langston Hughes’ poem which is “Let America Be America Again” greatly conceptualizes the ideology of the American dream wherein it catapults the perspective of numerous Americans on equality and freedom in terms of its ideals are not yet grasped, in full realization, so to speak.
Below are the highly-ladened lines in terms of power and impact that represents the core of the poem as follows:
I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars
I am the red man driven from the land
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek —
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.
In terms of providing a clearer view and understanding of the poem, a vivid demarcation line falls in between a harsh societal reality and American ideals, as manifested in the poem, so to speak.
But as a means of conclusion to the poem, Langston Hughes emphasizes in a strong ending that one day, he is filled with hope that the United States of America will gear on the direction that it will live up to its standards, as a country in totality.
“The Last Quatrain of the Ballad of Emmett Till” by Gwendolyn Brooks
Gwendolyn Brooks is remembered to have remained steadfast in making her own name in the creative aspect of Poetry when she made history twice in a row through her following achievements as follows:
First, she was the first ever black woman author to win the Pulitzer Prize during the 20th century. And second, she was the first ever black woman to have been given an appointment specifically as a Poetry Consultant in the Library of Congress, respectively.
Born in the year 1917, Gwendolyn Brooks became one of the most renowned poets during her lifetime, which paved the way for her work of Poetry to be in-depth in nature during the 1960’s.
Despite her death in the year 2000, her poetic work entitled: “The Last Quatrain of the Ballad of Emmett Till”, made an imprint during her time, in terms of being deep in information, as Politics is of high concern.
Below are the lines of the poem that made it catchy and interesting as far as Human Rights is of great concern as follows:
(after the murder,
after the burial)
Emmett’s mother is a pretty-faced thing;
the tint of pulled taffy.
She sits in a red room,
drinking black coffee.
She kisses her killed boy.
And she is sorry.
Chaos in windy grays
through a red prairie.
In terms of description, the interesting facet of this poem is made evident due to the non-presence of other quatrains, so to speak.
A catchy portion of the story, which is presented in a poetic manner and at the same time, people are greatly familiar with, is the portion when Emmett Till was murdered by the racists and that during his burial, Emmett Till’s mother opt to have his casket opened, as a means of showing to the visiting public what his son experienced that led to his untimely death, and only to find out that his body was not inside.
In general, the intent of Gwendolyn Brooks in the aspect of writing this poem is that she wanted the readers of the poem to have a quick glimpse on a momentum wherein people do not expect such scenarios to happen, as far as violations of human rights is concerned.
In addition, as a silent after effect of every human rights violation, people are more often depicted to just sit down and remain quiet despite what has transpired, inevitably.
As a holistic appeal, the poem may be lengthy in terms of its lamentations, yet its weight and encapsulated grief is vivid in the empty spaces of the poem.
“Poem about My Rights” by June Millicent Jordan
Born in the year 1936, June Millicent Jordan was renowned as a teacher, activist, essayist and most importantly, as a bisexual Jamaican-American poet, whom she is really proud of.
Despite her death in 2002, she made an imprint in the realms of Poetry, as she revolved her poetic writings on issues that greatly concern, immigration, race, and gender, respectively.
Alongside with that, her emphasis on intersectionality was the unique feature in her writings, as a means of highlighting the struggles that involve human rights and equality, so to speak.
Specifically, in her renowned work entitled: “Poem about My Rights”, June Millicent Jordan centered the poem on the tripart inhumane realities of gender inequality, race and rape, during her time.
In a closer look at the poem, June Millicent Jordan emphasized in details, her personal take on the aspects that she believes is “wrong” about her and these are in terms of her continent, sex, and color.
As an approach, poem enthusiasts are in unison in saying that June Millicent Jordan’s poem was both visceral and vivid, as proven by this portion of the poem as follows:
I am the history of rape
I am the history of the rejection of who I am
I am the history of the terrorized incarceration of
I am not wrong: Wrong is not my name
My name is my own my own my own
In totality, the poem conveys a declarative message, in the hopes of attaining self-preservation and truth.
In conclusion, in the point of view of June Millicent Jordan, as an encapsulated hope in the poem, that her poetic work will serve both as a wake-up call and wailing cry for individuals who are told that they are “wrong” by everyone that surrounds them that it is about time that they make a stand to correct that certain connotation, relatively.
“I Do” by Andrea Gibson
Last but certainly not the least is Andrea Gibson. Born in 1975, Andrea Gibson was renowned in the United States of America both as a poet and activist who centralizes her writing on issues that concern the LGBTQ Community, as well as on social reform and gender norms, so to speak.
As a means of emphasis, in her immense venture for Poetry, she performed as a “slam poet” frequently, and at the same time, in competitions that are in high relation to “Button Poetry”.
In addition, in her poem entitled “I Do”, Andrea Gibson gears on the direction of highlighting the various challenges that the queer people are facing, horrendously.
Below, is the impactful introduction of the poem as follows:
But the motherfuckers say we can’t.
‘cause you’re at girl and I’m a girl
or at least something close
To continue with, Andrea Gibson puts into full detail through the poem, the tedious settlement which is the so-called “uncivil union” that queer people needs to undergo in their state in Vermont, as a means of replacement to the traditional church wedding.
As a means of emphasis, Andrea Gibson also highlighted the imagination of queer people, in terms of having a countdown of 50 years wherein their respective partner is in the midst of dying, and there are still certain rules that they need to follow, as a means of foreseeing those who visit the concerned.
As a sad reality, numerous queer couples are prohibited to witness their loved ones at the end of everything, for unfortunately, they are not regarded as members of the concerned family.
The remaining parts of the poem highlights the shared life that Andrea Gibson and her partner had together, which makes it very deep and personable in approach.
In conclusion, Poetry as a whole is definitely powerful, as it has the magnificent ability of moving mountains, so to speak. And as a factor, it has the capability of transforming human rights, in the most humane sense.