Prayer to Masks

Prayer to Masks - masks for help but inadvertently ask the...

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Darryl Williams Dr. Kathi Griffin ENG 205-09 22 September 2010 Critical Analysis of “Prayer to Masks” The first poem is “Prayer to Masks,” and it is written by African poet and former Senegalian president, Leopold Sedar Senghor. The structure of this poem is free verse and even though the mood changes the overall tone is pleading. The beginning of the poem is a “prayer to masks.” “Black mask red mask, you white-and-black masks…in silence I salute you.” In his prayer, Senghor is paying homage to these masks, which are symbols for his ancestors. He writes this poem in first person, because he is speaking from his point of view to these masks. The topic is him asking his ancestors to help revive Africa. This is why he suggests to the masks “Fix your unchanging eyes upon your children.” Senghor sees that “the Africa of the empires is dying” and he knows he cannot bring it back to power alone. The purpose of this poem is to not only ask the
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Unformatted text preview: masks for help, but inadvertently ask the people of Africa to “draw new strength” and help as well. He also uses rhetorical questions to remind his people what they bring to the world, such as “who would teach rhythm?” and “who would give the cry of joy to wake the dead?” His love of Africa shines through the personification “pitiful princess.” This shows how he views Africa and its people as royal and sacred beings that need to be placed on a pedestal. Senghor also brings to the audience’s attention that there is a conflict between Africa and Europe. Even though they are “joined by the navel,” Europe treats Africa like inferior while they “give away their lives like the poor their last clothes.” With this metaphor, Senghor criticizes Europe for allowing Africa to give up all they had for the sake of a war they did not start and Europe did not show appreciation....
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Prayer to Masks - masks for help but inadvertently ask the...

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