Literary Course Reflection Essay

1543 words - 7 pages

During the course of this class, I have had the opportunity to read literature from authors who come from different backgrounds and places in the world. Some of the stories and poetry we read were straight forward while others were confusing and sometimes required a second look. But one thing is clear, it changed the way I think about literature in a few ways that I wasn’t expecting. Three works in particular stand out in my mind. “ I Wont Let You Go” by Rabindranath Tagore, “To New York” by Leopold Senghor, and Pedro Peramo by Juan Rulfo all had an impact on my thinking for similar yet different reasons. They all incorporate their cultural backgrounds into their work through the ...view middle of the document...

Its not that I haven’t seen that type of writing before, but he had a subtle way of connecting African scenery and Western culture that I could appreciate.
One quote that helped the poem deliver its message to me begins on line 56, “Now the ancient age returns, unity is restored, the reconciliation of Lion, Bull, and Tree. Ideal links to action, the ear to the heart, sign to meaning. See your rivers stirring with musk alligators and sea cows with mirage eyes. No need to invent the Sirens. Just open your eyes to the April rainbow, and your ears, especially your ears, to God.” The alligator represents the memory of the past, while the manatees foresee the future. He didn’t want us to forget our history, but he wanted us to push forward and recognize the benefits of many cultures working towards common understanding. When I read his background I was shocked to find out that he had lived in France and was teaching when WWII started. He was drafted into the French army and eventually ended up as a prisoner in a German camp for 2 years. From what I learned, he learned some of the German language and continued to write poetry during that time. I cant help but think that this experience had a profound impact on his life. As a black French citizen, it would have been very disappointing and frustrating to watch the Germans do unthinkable things to other human beings and exact punishments on people in the name of power. The Germans felt they were a superior group to others, and I am sure Senghor saw examples of this sentiment towards others during his time as a prisoner. After going through an experience like that, I feel that he was able to make prophetic statements in his poem because he had been there and could see the repercussions of what happens when cultures begin to devalue each other. His background influenced his work and by reading his piece, I was inevitable exposed to that history because it is part of his existence.
Another way that reading literature from other cultures has changed my view is that I began to relate to the passion that emerges from some of the pieces. In “I Wont Let You Go”, written by Tagore, a father talks about the pain of having to leave his family and the emotions that he feels when he has to say goodbye to his daughter. The overlapping message of this poem talks about the concept of true love and what it means to have true love for another. I feel that his message is meant to say that people who are or were a big part of our lives, continue to have an influence or presence even when they aren’t around. I think he was trying to say that love is able to transcend and endure any obstacle. Even if the feeling of love is challenged by time, distance , or faded memory, love is more powerful because it has the reinforcement of a higher power. He adds a religious element to his poetry by referring to the Creator as the person or thing that will not let true love die, even in the face of death. The quote...

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