Lewis Allen Poem "Strange Fruit"
What is the first stanza talking about?
Southern trees bear a strange fruit
Blood on the leaves and blood at the roots
Black bodies swingin' in the southern breeze
Strange fruit hangin' from the poplar trees
how does the imagery helps to communicate the general theme of the poem?
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The "strange fruit" being described is referring to black people who have been lynched. Possibly, they were beaten before being hanged and/or their bodies were mutilated after they died - this would account for "Blood on the leaves and blood at the roots." The "black bodies swingin' in the southern breeze" are literally the dead, battered and mangled bodies of black people who have been lynched by southern racists.
The rest of the poem goes on to contrast the peaceful and refined southern countryside with the horrific scene of the earlier lines. The beauty of the land clashes with the gruesome and distorted corpses. The wonderfully pleasant sweet smell of the magnolias, that most iconic of southern flowers, contrasts with the stench of decaying human flesh. In the midst of the growth around the south, there is this "strange fruit" of death.
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