Figurative language in The Little Black Boy

The poem The Little Black Boy is rich with literary styles. The author uses literary skills like imagery, similes, rhyme, etc to make the poem interesting and captivating. Imagery is, perhaps, the most predominant literary element in the poem.

Examples of images used in the poem include “… my soul is white”, in the first stanza, second line, the part which the author uses the words “… black as if bereaved of light” is also an image that underscores weight of the problem of the child. “… Flowers and trees and beasts and men receive …” in the third stanza, third line, “… we put on earth a little space”, in the fourth stanza, first line, “… is but a cloud, and a shady grove”, in the fourth stanza, last line. The last example is both an image and a simile.

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Other images used in the poem include “… the cloud will vanish”, in the fifth stanza, second line, “… round the tent of God …” in the fifth stanza, fourth line, “… Shade … from the heat …” in the last stanza, first line and “… lean … upon our father’s knee”, last stanza, second line.

The author’s extensive use of imagery makes the reader to visualize the setting of the poem and thus it makes the reader to understand the poem better. Most of the images used in this poem are color-related because the theme of the poem is love that cuts across races.

Also conspicuous among the literary styles used in the poem is the use of similes. The author has used a lot of similes to depict the settings and ideas of the poem.

Examples of similes used in this poem include “white as an angel …” in the first stanza third line, “… bereaved of light” in the first stanza, last line, “… like a shady grove” in the fourth stanza, last line, “… round my golden tent like lambs rejoice!” in the fifth stanza, last line, “… God like lambs” in the sixth stanza, last line and “and be like him …” in the last stanza, last line. The author’s use of similes is very appropriate.

He uses most of them in the last line of every stanza to help the reader in understanding the ideas that each stanza talks about. Thus the use of similes can be viewed to emphasize on the ideas of racism and religion in the poem.

Rhyme is evident in every stanza of the poem. In the first stanza, “wild” rhymes with “child”. In the second, “tree” rhymes with “me”, while “day” rhymes with “say”. Similarly, rhyme is evident in the third stanza with the author using the words live, away, receive and noonday. The fourth stanza also rhymes the words space, love, face and grove.

The fifth stanza uses the words bear, voice, care and rejoice, in which bear rhymes with care while voice rhymes with rejoice. The sixth stanza rhymes the word “me” with free and “boy” with “joy”. The last stanza uses the words bear, me, hair and knee in which “bear” rhymes with “hair” while me “me” rhymes with knee. The use of rhyme in the poem gives it rhythm and thus it makes it interesting to the reader.

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