How are language and diction is used in the poem "Black Woman"?

In the poem "Black Woman," language and diction are used to convey the beauty of the continent of Africa. To this end, the poet uses language techniques such as personification, simile, and repetition.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Throughout the poem, the poet personifies the African continent as a beautiful and strong Black woman. He describes, for example, the "gentleness of [her] hands" and her "solemn contralto voice." The poet personifies Africa in this way to evoke the impression that Africa is full of life and energy, and also to better convey an impression of her beauty. It is easier for a reader to appreciate beauty if that beauty is personified in a human form.

The poet also uses similes in the poem, such as when he says that the beauty of Africa "strikes [him] to the heart / like the flash of an eagle." An eagle is an impressive, powerful and majestic bird, and thus the simile helps to convey the majesty of Africa's beauty, and the impact that that beauty makes upon the speaker. The speaker is struck by the beauty of Africa, as if struck by an eagle.

Throughout the poem the poet also uses repetition to emphasize key words and phrases. He repeats, for example, the phrase "naked woman." The repetition of this phrase helps to convey the idea that Africa's beauty is natural and pure. In another example of repetition, the phrase "naked woman" is usually followed by the phrase "dark woman," or sometimes "Black woman." The repetition of the phrases "dark woman" and "Black woman" helps to emphasize the point that the beauty of Africa is synonymous with, or inextricable from the darkness or blackness of Africa.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial