Arna BontempsFaith Weaver

Arna Bontemps was born in Alexandria, Louisiana to a bricklayer and a school teacher. He moved to Los Angeles when he was three, but his relationship with his father became rocky when he refused to apprentice in masonry. He was sent away to a white school, but was offended at the idea of losing his racial heritage (Biography). He graduated instead from Pacific Union Colledge in 1923. He then married Alberta Johnson and had 6 kids. He published many poems in "The Crisis and Oppurtunity", which was a magazine that favored African American writers, and earned many awards for them (Life and Career).

He moved to Harlem in 1926 and became a teacher. He also worked with several other Renaissance figures like Langston Hughes. He liked to write for younger readers saying they were ' "not yet insenstive to man's inhumanity to man" ' (Biography). He became part of a group of African American artists that attracted a lot of attention during this time. He moved to Alabama in 1931, where he published his first book God Sends Sunday. Many of his writings show themes of endurance and dignity showing how he fought to reflect his beautiful African American culture (Keats).
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A Black Man Talks of ReapingBY ARNA BONTEMPS


I have sown beside all waters in my day. I planted deep, within my heart the fear that wind or fowl would take the grain away. I planted safe against this stark, lean year.
I scattered seed enough to plant the land in rows from Canada to Mexico but for my reaping only what the hand can hold at once is all that I can show.
Yet what I sowed and what the orchard yields my brother's sons are gathering stalk and root; small wonder then my children glean in fields they have not sown, and feed on bitter fruit


This poem describes the trial and hardships of the African American people. Arna Bontemps compares their trials to farming. He states "I scattered seed enough to plant the land in rows from Canada to Mexico but for my reaping only what the hand can hold at once is all that I can show," meaning that even through all their hard work, they have nothing to harvest. Even more brutally, that what is harvested is done so by white people. Arna Bontemps is trying to say that Africans Americans do all the work, but the white people get all the rewards (Interactive Literature). The poem also talks about the little children that weren't around for the planting, but still have to taste the bitter fruit. This could mean that future generations still have to face the discrimination between the races.

Another theme in this poem is the theme of fear. This poem talks about how the farmers were afraid to plant around those who would steal their crops. "I planted deep within my heart the fear," means that he had a lot of things to fear and won't forget them (Interactive Literature). The line "I planted safe against this stark, lean year," means that he tried to plant his crops safely, but still had nothing to show for it. This poem could also be saying that safety never got them anywhere and now they have to stand up and go a little more dangerously. Arna Bontemps captured the theme of racism and discrimination in his poem to show the history of the people.Works Cited"Arna Bontemps Biography."Famous Poets and Poems - Read and Enjoy Poetry. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <http://famouspoetsandpoems.com/poets/arna_bontemps/biography>."Arna Bontemps' Life and Career." Welcome to English « Department of English, College of LAS, University of Illinois. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <http://www.english.illinois.eduBontemps, Arna. "A Black Man Talks of Reaping by Arna Bontemps : Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Project."Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Project. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2011. <http://www.poetryoutloud.org/poems/poem.html?id=176999>."Interactive Literature Selections A Black Man Talks of Reaping." EMC Corporation. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2011. <http://www.emcp.com/product_catalog/school/litLink/Grade11/U08-07Bontemps/>.Keats, John. "Poetry Foundation." Poetry Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 14 Apr. 2011. <http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/arna-bontemps>.