How is imagery used in "The Middle Passage" by Robert Hayden?

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Imagery is the use of words to appeal to the five senses: sight, taste, touch, smell, and hearing. Authors use imagery to enhance their theme. Hayden’s poem is about the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade, which was also called “the Middle Passage.” This voyage, which packed hundreds of black Africans into the hold for a voyage that took at least six weeks and often much longer, is conveyed through Hayden’s imagery. The first line appeals to our sense of danger—the sails are “like weapons.” In the second line we hear the “moans” of the slave cargo. The poem starts with a list of slave ship names—“Jesus, Estrella, Esperanza, Mercy ”—and then goes into the consciousness of a captain of a slave ship writing in his log. In his log we hear the “moaning” as a prayer for death. We see the Africans starving themselves; we hear the “crazy laughter” as the slaves jump to their deaths in shark-infested water. We can see the sharks tearing at the bodies of the...

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