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During the Negritude Movement, poets had many different ways to express what they thought about religion and races. These poets used their poems to express how they felt about these topics. Guy Tirolien and Bernard Dadie used their poetry to express their faith in the Lord and what they thought he could do to impact lives. This is shown in the poems “A Little Black Boy’s Prayer” and “I Thank You, Lord.”
In both Negritude poems, the main character is talking to the same person and also giving credit to that person for making their lives the way they are. In both Tirolien’s and Dadie’s poems, the character is talking to the Lord. In “A Little Black Boy’s Prayer,” the boy says, “Lord, I don’t want to go to their school anymore.” (Tirolien lines 5, 20) This is important to the poem because it shows that he not only believes in God, but he also communicates to the Lord. He is talking to the Lord and telling him about everything he does not like about the new school he is attending. Likewise, in “I Thank You, Lord,” the main character is also speaking to the Lord. We know this not only from the title of the poem, but also when he says, in the opening line, “I thank you, Lord, for making me Black.” (Dadie line 1). In both of these poems, the Lord is recognized for being responsible for what the characters have and also being capable of changing what they have.
In “A Little Black Boy’s Prayer,” the boy knows that the Lord is responsible for what he has and when he wants to change it that is why he prays to God. He says to the Lord, “Fix it, please, so I don’t have to.” (Tirolien 6, 21). He believes that the Lord is able to fix his problems so he prays to him in hopes that his problems will be solved. Like the boy in that poem, the boy in “I Thank You, Lord” also recognizes what the Lord does. He is able to realize that what he has is because of the Lord. The boy says, “For having made me the sum of all griefs, for having put upon my head the World.” (Dadie 2-5). He recognizes that the Lord gave him everything that he has and made him who he is. He does not want anything to change so he is not asking for a fix, but he knows that he is lucky to have what he wants because of the Lord. Both of these similarities have to do with the Lord and religion which was important to the Negritude poetry.
Although there are similarities between these two poems, there are many differences as well. The biggest difference between these two is the attitude and tone of the boys. In “A Little Black Boy’s Prayer,” the boy is not happy with his life and what is going on in it. The whole poem is him asking the Lord to change what he has. Multiple times throughout the poem he says “I want…” (Tirolien 7, 10, 12). This shows he is not happy with what he has. He wants a change in his life and he wants that change to come from the Lord. Tirolien ends the poem with “Lord, I don’t want no more school.” (Tirolien 49). The change that the boy is looking for from the Lord is to not have to go to school. He wants the change in his life to be that he gets to be back with the black people and not be in school with the white kids anymore. The boy from “I Thank You, Lord,” however, has a different opinion on his own life. Not only does he thank the Lord multiple times for having made him black, he also uses words like “content” (Dadie 11) “satisfied” (Dadie 14) and “pleased” (Dadie 17) to describe how he feels about his life. He uses these words to show what he is okay with on his body and what each thing is made for. He has a much difference attitude about his life. Unlike the other boy, this boy likes everything that God has given him and he does not wish to change it, or to have god “fix it.”
Both Tirolien and Dadie were able to express how they felt about the things discussed during the Negritude Movement. They used poetry to explain their views on the thoughts of people during this movement.