Friday, February 4, 2011


It has been universally agreed among our class that this poem seems to describe in an indirect form African American slaves plowing fields. I’ve agreed with that idea, and I think that placement of the word “black” in two locations in the text confirms this. The first two words of the poem, “Black reapers”, characterize the slaves who are at work under harsh conditions. In only one other instance in the poem is the word “black” used, in the fifth line in which “Black horses drive a mower through the weeds.” With the assumption that “black reapers” means the African American slaves being described in the poem, a connection can be established between the work being performed by them and by the black horses. The reapers “are sharpening scythes” to perform more work in the fields. Likewise, the black horses are at work in the fields. I found it surprising that this similarity between worker and horse seemed to dehumanize the reapers, as they’re doing the same exact job as a horse, an animal the owner possesses. The incorporation of “black”, to describe both human worker and horse, displays in a much clearer form the unfortunate situation the reapers are in. The poem hints at the notion that these people, who remain under the most adverse of conditions, are equally compared to an animal.

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