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“Heritage” by Countee Cullen is a poem describing Cullen’s strong African-American background. In the first four stanzas of the poem, he describes Africa and its people with vivid imagery. It is important to note the transitions in the poem. The fifth stanza begins the switch to speaking about the gods worshiped in Africa and then there is a transition in the sixth stanza. This stanza begins with the words, “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” as the author begins to speak about the Holy Trinity that is an icon of Catholicism. The speaker talks about the double standard; he prays to a white God but in his heart, he wants the one he worships to be black. He asks if he needs to suffer so that he would have something in common with the idea of his God. The God he envisions has “Dark despairing features [...] crowned with dark rebellious hair.” In her quest to find commonality with God, he asks forgiveness for the times that he conjures up a God that he can identify with when he finds it difficult to pray to the God of the white race.
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