Style and the representation of agony in the poetry of Countee Cullen

  • Anthony Ebebe Eyang


The somber and tragic mood prevalent in Countee Cullen’s poetry is a reflection of the poet’s internal conflict as an African American writer against the background of the harsh climate of racial injustice, which the black man was a victim of in American. This paper examines the modes of representation of this agonizing conflict and the African American as an existential victim. It looks at select poems of Cullen from the perspective of psychoanalysis to explore the double consciousness, the motif of inferiority, religious frustration and agony of the symbolic poet-victim while making the argument that in spite of the writer’s wish not to be viewed as a Negro poet, his art was essentially influenced by the experiences of the time. Along this line, the paper looks at the creative handling of lexical and syntactic structures and figurative expressions as stylistic strategies to communicate the dual consciousness and frustration of the black man, stranded between paganism and Christianity.

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eISSN: 1813-2227