Frederick Douglass Narrative Essay

1127 words - 5 pages

After reading Frederick Douglass’s narrative of slavery, I couldn’t help but stop and try to gather my thoughts in any way possible. It was not the first time I had read the narrative, but this time around Douglass’s words hit me much harder. Perhaps, it was that I read the narrative in a more critical lens, or possibly it was just that I am older and more mature now from the last time I read it, but whatever the reason, I can confidently say reading the narrative has changed my heart and opened my eyes in many ways. I have always been aware of the injustices that slavery encompassed and of course like many other people, I have been taught about slavery in a historical narrative my entire life. But, Frederick Douglass’s narrative does more than just provide a historical perspective in seeing the injustices in slavery. His narrative asks the reader to look directly into the eyes of actual slaves and realize their very heart beat and existence as humans. Douglass humanizes the people of whom the terrible acts we acted upon that we learn about as early as elementary school. It is because of this that I decided to write this poem. Reading the narrative made me really think about Douglass’s journey and the story he tells on his road to freedom. I felt as if he was really speaking to me and, and in turn I wanted to give Douglass a voice in my own writing.
I have written many poems in my life, but I have never written a poem by embodying another person. I tried to think about Douglass’s emotions and feeling and write from that position, rather than just by presenting a historical overview of what slavery was. I wanted to connect with Douglass and use his narrative to write my poem. I know that I will never be able to feel exactly what Douglass felt, and I will never understand what slavery actually is, as I was obviously never a slave, but I wanted to walk in Douglass’s footsteps and retrace his journey. I hope to indicate a mental stream of consciousness that Douglass may have been holding in his mind as he goes about living his life, telling his story. For this reason I decided to use very open language and write in a very free-verse style. I want my reader to feel a progression of thoughts as Douglass, in my mind, is thinking them. I also engaged my writing towards an intellectual tone to model Douglass intellect and complexity. I felt this was the best representation of Douglass I could give.
When I began to write the poem I thought about starting in a variety of ways. But, in the end I felt that it would be best to start at the beginning. I re-read parts of the narrative and wrote the stanzas as a liner representation of the most important themes in accordance to the progression of the actual narrative. I start the poem out with a notion of “happy birthday.” When I read, “For what is this separation done, I do not know, unless it be to hinder the development of the child’s affection toward its mother, and to blunt and destroy the natural...

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