Type: Rhetorical Essays
Sample donated: Lorraine Bradley
Last updated: September 22, 2019
Hayden’s tribute poem “Frederick Douglass” is not written in a form I have seen before or am familiar with. I have noticed a few thing while reading this poem.
I previously called this poem a sonnet but later realized it just demonstrates a few of those qualities. This poem in particular, yes has fourteen lines but it lacks a rhyme scheme, meter. This poem has eighteen syllables when a typical sonnet poem only has ten per line. The only element that remains the same in the poem is that fact that it meets the fourteen line requirement to even be considered a sonnet.”Frederick Douglass” is not broken into stanzas at all. If you look at the structure of the poem you will notice that it only has one stanza.
As I was reading and trying to familiarize myself with this poem I came across this critic who was giving his point of view on this poem as well. M. Ayodele Heath from mayodeleheath.blogspot.com stated “Hayden’s rhyme scheme deviates from classical sonnet models. While the number of syllables per line varies widely, the number of stressed syllables per line is more consistent.
While on one hand Hayden is breaking a particular social order by having only one stanza, deviating from a classical rhyme scheme, and abandoning the iambic pentameter. Hayden on the other hand is building a new social order through rhetorical devices particularly anaphora”. I didn’t really understand what an anaphora was. After doing extensive reading on anaphora rhetorical device, I had used to the dictionary to found that this specified device suits this poem very well. Anaphora is defined as the repetition of a word or a group of words in the beginning of a sentence to add an emphasis and/or bring clauses together. It is important to understand that the utility of anaphora is most commonly used in poetry to add an artistic effect.
Having said that, the opening line of Hayden’s poem is one that demonstrates the perfect example of an anaphoric line. That line reads “When it is finally ours, this freedom, this liberty, this beautiful and terrible thing” This type of sentence will fabricate this sort of momentum or effect for the reader. In my opinion this line created this sort of excitement, that line started the poem off really strong. The next clause in this sentence switches the anaphora from “this” to “when it”. The overall function of anaphora is not only to add emphasis but to create a form of rhythm to make it memorable and pleasing to the audience. The first device that I noticed used was repetition.
Repetition is the act of doing something over and over again. In some cases many authors of poem repeat phrases or word in order to try and get there point across to their readers. For example, “this freedom, this liberty, this beautiful” (Line 1) Robert Hayden repeats the word “this “in his poem emphasizing the words used right after to describe liberty and freedom. By doing this Hayden is contributing to the theme of trying to get across to his reader how important freedom is. Similes were used in this poem in different ways. Hayden was trying to get the readers to understand what he was trying to say by making some simple comparisons. Similes is a figurative language that is defined as drawing comparisons.
An example of a simile in the poem would be “Needful to man as air, useable as earth” (Lines 2-3) Hayden is comparing freedom to air and earth. Hayden is trying to get the reader to understand how important freedom is to a human being. Freedom and liberty is something that we all should obtain.