Robert Jones Engl. 2072-001 02/24/2010 Compare and Contrast Of Malcolm X Poems Malcolm X, one of the most iconic faces of the civil rights movement if often paid tribute to by writers and poets. Robert Hayden and Margaret Walker are two African American poets that paid homage to Malcolm X. Interestingly enough; two poems about the same person are written in two completely different ways and focus on separate intervals of his life. Robert Hayden focuses on Malcolm’s life as a big picture and uses metamorphosis as the central theme, along with metaphoric language throughout to paint the picture of a very religious, very focused man.
Margaret Walker focuses on the death of Malcolm X. She uses sonnets to form her poem and vehement descriptive language to paid homage to the late Malcolm X. Immediately in the next four lines Malcolm’s childhood transforms into his teenage/young adulthood years. He seems to be happier than he was as a child, yet still troubled. He became known as Dee-troit Red Malcolm was already fleeing his given name on the search to change who he felt he was. The metamorphosis that Hayden focuses on is made even more apparent with this line.
He conked his hair Hayden does not meaninglessly place this line into the poem. The conking of the hair was something that was very popular amongst many African American males during the 1920’s through the 1960’s. This was an attempt by Malcolm to appear to look more like a white male. The attempt of metamorphosis was not only the central them of Hayden’s poem but was also a central theme in the life of Malcolm X. Malcolm’s childhood controlled what he was slowly becoming as an adult. “His injured childhood bullied him…he could not hurt the enemy powered against him there. In these few lines in the poem it was apparent that Malcolm have made some attempts to better himself and perhaps gain equality but the evidence of his troubled youth and need for change held him back. Part three of Hayden’s poem solidifies the theme of metamorphosis. “He X’d his name”, the letter X is used in the poem as a means of abandonment. Perhaps even abandonment into the unknown. The Malcolm X that is known by many today is shown in this part of the poem. “He became his people’s anger…vengeance for their past. ” The by any means necessary Malcolm that is immortalized was ere in part three. He was viewed by many as an angry individual. His metamorphosis is finally at its fulfillment here. Hayden still uses the term ice to create the opposition of Malcolm. “Drive them from the lush ice gardens of their servitude” Ice is apparently still the evil white people that were present in the beginning of the poem because Hayden speaks of servitude in this line, which is slavery. Malcolm change is permanent now and he is attempting to change those around him as well. Part four of this poem is where the changed Malcolm meets his demise. He becomes a martyr.
Hayden writes that “time brought the iconic trophies. ” In this point on Malcolm’s life his change was forever due to his death. “Hejira to his final metamorphosis”, Hejira is a burial place in Saudi Arabia. Hayden places this city in the poem to allow readers the omnipotent feel that Malcolm’s final metamorphosis was directly linked and guided to his death. Margaret Walker focuses on Malcolm X’s death her poem “For Malcolm X” was meant to pay homage and perhaps even respect to Malcolm X. There are some similarities found between her poem and Robert Hayden’s poem. Her central theme is death.
She uses sonnet form to paint a picture of the funeral of Malcolm X and also creates emotion through her descriptive language. “All you violent ones…whose hearts cry out heartbreak”, in these two lines there are seemingly opposite meanings but Margaret Walker paints the picture of struggle just as Hayden did at the beginning of his poem. Both authors uses profoundly descriptive dialect. “Whose black faces have hollowed pits for eyes”, the scene created here jumps out because of the way it was written. The central theme of death becomes dominant in this one line. The eyes have been thought of by many as a portal to ones soul.
If it is hollow the person if thought to be lifeless or without a soul. Using black instead of African American creates a feeling of death. Black is the generally accepted color of attire to mourn ones death at a funeral. Another similarity that was apparent between both Walker and Hayden was their views of white people. Although Hayden uses terms such as: icy: Walker uses the term white devil. Both are very descriptive language used to describe the white man at that point in time. Margaret Walker creates the scene by allowing readers insight into the scene of the funeral. All you gambling sons and hooked children and bowery bums”, this is letting us know the people who are in attendance at this funeral. Both authors make it apparent that the black bourgeoisie is just as negatively thought of as the hateful white person. Malcolm conked his hair which after he had done it became apparent to him that he was trying to portray himself more favorably in the white person’s eyes. Margaret Walker speaks of the black bourgeoisie and this one the more popular occurrences of the black bourgeoisie, to conk their hair.
Margaret Walker and Robert Hayden both acknowledge Malcolm’s relation to the Nation of Islam. Hayden focused his poem around this segment of Malcolm’s life. Walker’s description of Malcolm’s body shows that his religion was an important part of his life. “The snow white moslem head-dress around a black face”, she maintains the theme of death through the contrast of color here. Walker just as Hayden used metaphoric language in her poem to describe what Malcolm and his words meant to people. “Our blood and water pour from your flowing wounds”, with Malcolm’s death many people felt as though a part of themselves had died as well.
He was a driving force in the civil rights movement and people found life in him. With death being the central theme the lines subsequent to this one describes things that would physically kill a person but it gave a new perspective on life to those who heard his words. “You have cut or breasts and dug scalpels into our brains”, his words pricked the hearts of many of the people who heard them and caused them to think more and take charge of their freedom. Describing this through actions that would lead to death made these lines in the poem very profound.