Advaith Achan 4th April 14th, 2011

Arna Wendell Bontemps was born on October 13, 1902, in Alexandria, Louisiana. He was born the son of a a Creole bricklayer and a school teacher. He grew up in Los Angelos, California, and he moved to Harlem in 1924 because he accepted a teaching job in a school near Harlem. (American Poets-1). He married Alberta Johnson, a former student, in 1926; they would eventually have six children. He became connected to the Harlem because he opted to take a teaching job instead of getting his PhD in English. He did this to support his family, and this allowed him to get connected to the Harlem Renaissance (American Poets-1). He met many other famous Harlem Renaissance artists.
Bontemps’ poems showed the desire for racial equality through works like God Sends Sunday and the Day breakers. Bontemps used his expression of equality and struggle to connect the African American community. They can all relate through their experiences. His poems and novels also show the strive for success. Most of the African Americans wanted success, and to achieve this they decided to work together.
Southern Mansion by Arna Bontemps
Poplars are standing there still as death
And ghosts of dead men
Meet their ladies walking
Two by two beneath the shade
And standing on the marble steps.

There is a sound of music echoing
Through the open door
And in the field there is
Another sound tinkling in the cotton:
Chains of bondmen dragging on the ground.

The years go back with an iron clank,
A hand is on the gate,
A dry leaf trembles on the wall.
Ghosts are walking.
They have broken roses down
And poplars stand there still as death.
Analysis: Bontemps was an important and influential individual during the Harlem Renaissance. He spread the concepts of racial equality and struggle to achieve success. He also depicted the tough life that African Americans had to deal with. One of the poems that exhibits the tough life of old African Americans in the south is “Southern Mansion”. It talks about the ghosts, death, and trembles in this poem.
The phrase “A dry leaf trembles on the wall” is personification. Phrases like “music echoing”, “dragging on the ground”, and “still as death” all give the sense of loneliness. The phrase “still as death” is repeated a lot to show emphasis of the depression. The “poplars stand there as still as death” is an example of personification. The “ghosts are walking” is a good example of imagery.
"Arna Bontemps." - Poetry, Poems, Bios & More. Academy of American Poets. Web. 15 Apr. 2011. <>.
"Southern Mansion - Poem by Arna Bontemps." Famous Poets and Poems - Read and Enjoy Poetry. Web. 15 Apr. 2011. <>.arna-bontemps.jpg