Vachel Lindsay

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What is the purpose of the poem "The Congo" by Vachel Lindsay?

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It is impossible to know definitively what Lindsay's purpose was, but by analyzing the poem's content and style it is possible to develop some informed claims. Lindsay's purpose could be said to follow the trajectory of African and African American lives from pre-colonialism to post-colonialism.

In terms of style, Lindsay was interested in sound and rhythm, perhaps in the service of evoking the sounds of African culture. Lindsay exploited end rhyme (boom/room, vision/derision, yell/hell), onomatopoeia (boom), and repetition (Mumbo-Jumbo will hoo-doo you/Mumbo-Jumbo will hoo-doo you/Mumbo-Jumbo will hoo-doo you) to evoke the sounds of indigenous chanting and drumming.

References to the crimes of Leopold II, the late nineteenth-century Belgian king who created the Congo Free State, suggest a...

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