Why is the color of the black woman glorified in the poem? Does it speak about the realities in the life of the African people?  

Expert Answers

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

In this 1945 poem, the color of the black woman is glorified because it not only represents the beauty of African womanhood, it represents the beauty of Senghor's home country, Senegal. Senghor is celebrating and exalting his native culture, which is black.

He says the black woman's color is "life" and is his "Promised land." He shows his love for both the black woman and his country when he writes,

your beauty strikes me to the heart
like the flash of an eagle

In contrast to so much literature written by the colonizer denigrating both blacks and Africa, Senghor highlights black beauty and Africa's positive qualities.

This is primarily a lyrical poem expressing Senghor's strong positive and even ecstatic emotions toward his country and people. However, it does also allude to the realities of life for the African people in the lines:

Carved tom-tom, taut tom-tom, muttering
under the Conqueror's fingers

The "conqueror" would be the French colonizers, and the muttering tom-tom would represent the Senegalese trying to preserve their native culture under the colonizer's grip. However, the poem, which is reminiscent of the biblical Song of Songs, focuses on creating a series of searing beautiful images of Africa and its people.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

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