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Risking It All For The Things We Long For... A Compare/Contrast Essay On Thomas Merton And Langston Hughes And Their Works Regarding The Birmingham Bombings Of 1963.

1415 words - 6 pages

Risking it all for the things we long for...The idealistic approach to achieving what is presented as unachievable goals, to a person, will only further the desire in one's soul to quest for this said "holy grail." The settings that follow in these poems are examples of what people, driven to the edge of social degradation, will risk in order to be free of their oppressors.Thomas Merton was dealt a difficult life from early on. Beginning with his mother's death at six, his father's death at sixteen, and becoming the father of an illegitimate child at sixteen, the road was slated to be a rough and hard career. Langston Hughes grew up with great travel in his life. With divorced parents, the constant juggling between the two-made Hughes contemplate suicide early on. His father was said to not be caring.The author of a piece of literature is a painter of a piece of art. The art will change depending on the author's background, motive, experiences, and point of view. Langston Hughes and Thomas Merton were surprisingly similar in backgrounds, yet different in location, race and education. Both had great parental problems earlier on in their lives; Hughes later would enter the army and then travel worldwide. Merton joined a hermit monastery and also traveled the world. In this way they were running from their problems and using the great expanses of the globe as a personal solitude from their earlier hardships. In "Birmingham Sunday", Hughes begins right away by using great amounts of shock value to give his poem as much impact as possible. Using realistic and gruesome scenes of the bombing, post event, is the prevalent topic repeatedly used by Hughes in the majority of his poem. The line that is showed consistently is "Their blood upon the wall" (5). This line is a major emotional anchor for Hughes. Reading through you can imagine the anger with which the poem is being written. It is as if Langston is mercilessly beating the enemy with the memory of these four girls who were slain in this devilish act. As if desperate to blame someone, Hughes turns to the inventors of the killing device: the Chinese. Hughes gives readers a history lesson, using lines nine through fourteen, on dynamite. He tells that China produced this item without thought of its consequences. This statement can only be produced by the anger that is clouding Langston's rational judgment, as he blames the murder weapon and not the murderer. "And The Children of Birmingham" was one of Thomas Merton's anti-racism works during his period as a hermit. Despite them being from the same background, Merton's poem choices a different standpoint than Hughes. One thing that is immediately recognizable in Merton's poem is the lack of anger and passion that Hughes exhibits. The difference in topics could have produced this, as Merton chooses to write on a more political event than personal as he was heavily into anti-violence and anti-racism movements. The poem carries on, however, with a great...

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