Art, Literature, and Music in 20th Century Question I feel that the best example of a poet’s response to the devastation of war comes from Owen (1921) who wrote a poem titled Dulce et Decorum Est. The poem shows the horror of war and how useless a death can be if it is based on a lie that death which comes by fighting for one’s homeland is sweet. The First World War was death caused by mechanised warfare where machines and the number of bullets fired became more important than anything else.
Owen’s poem is written from the viewpoint of a man who was involved in real battle and saw his friends die around him from gas warfare. The poem begins with a group of soldiers walking away from the battlefield who are attacked with chlorine gas. As try to quickly put on their gas masks, one of them is not quick enough and the poet sees him die a very horrible death (Owen, 1921). Owen writes blank verse with loose iambic pentameter which gives his poem the feel of being disjointed.
This is most evident in the ending of the poem where he describes the death of the soldier to the reader using imagery such as lungs filled with blood and lifeless bodies. In effect, Owen seems to suggest that the idea of dying for one’s country is nothing more than a lie told to children who seek glory in their lives. Question 2 Music was considered to be an essential part of civilization for hundreds of years and the music of various countries added to the cultural values held in a country.
In America, music was also a part of the national economy as well as culture but at the beginning of the 20th century, record manufacturers often refused to acknowledge the music created by African Americans and ignored them as customers. Music was expected to represent racial characteristics and thus many people considered black music inferior to white music (Mlinarcik, 2004). This was racial inequality to an extreme since traditionally artists and artisans are supposed to be more accepting of differences than any other segment of society. However, despite all the negativity, black music producers and musicians consistently produced excellent output in various forms of music to show that they were indeed as capable as their white counterparts.
This musical output helped in breaking social barriers and improving cultural education and thus helped the process of racial equality between blacks and whites. Jazz and blues remained popular amongst a wide cross-section of the population and artists such as Ethel Waters and Isabelle Washington showed how art has no boundaries of race or color (Mlinarcik, 2004). Undoubtedly, they and other artists like them remain the largely ‘unsung’ heroes for the struggle which led to eventual racial equality in the United States. Question 3 While the world may clearly remember individual writers such as Baldwin and Wright for their writings concerning the plight of a people who have been more or less sidelined by their nation, the names of female writers such as Gwendolyn Brooks often become obscure.
Brooks was the first African American writer to win the Pulitzer Prize and worked hard for gender and race issues in postwar America during the civil rights era.
Other African American female writers include Nikki Giovanni and Sonia Sanchez who also worked with civil rights groups to bring about a change to society (Wikipedia, 2007). In other arts, Marian Anderson who was born in Philadelphia born had to achieve recognition and fame in Europe before she was accepted as an artist in America. In 1939, at her first major American concert the Daughters of the American Revolution protested and did not allow her to perform in the nation’s capital at Constitution Hall. Seeing this reaction, Eleanor Roosevelt helped her perform at the Lincoln Memorial and Mrs.
Roosevelt resigned from her membership with the Daughters of the American Revolution. The NAACP awarded the Spingran Medal to Marian Anderson in recognition of her achievements and her efforts in improving the race issues faced by other African American artists (LOC, 2007). Word Count: 731 Works Cited LOC (Library of Congress). 2007, ‘African American Odyssey’, LOC. gov, [Online] Available at: http: //memory. loc. gov/ammem/aaohtml/exhibit/aopart7b. html Mlinarcik, J. 2004, ‘The Great War and Modern America’, GMU. edu, [Online] Available at: http: //chnm. gmu. edu/courses/er/fall2004/hist120/archives/The%20Great%20War%20and%20Modern%20America. php Owen, W. 1921, ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’, Wikisource. org, [Online] Available at: http: //en. wikisource. org/wiki/Dulce_et_Decorum_est Wikipedia, 2007, ‘African American literature’, Wikipedia. org, [Online] Available at: http: //en. wikipedia. org/wiki/African_American_literature
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