Oppression

A Different History by Sujata Bhatt

‘A Different History’ by Sujata Bhatt is not a raging piece of protest, rather it teaches how to revisit one’s cultural past in a curious, sensible way.

A Different History by Sujata Bhatt

Holy Thursday (Songs of Experience) by William Blake

‘Holy Thursday’ by William Blake depicts the poor children of London attending church on Holy Thursday. Specifically, Blake describes their songs, appearance, and how their existence challenges the message the church is trying to convey.

Holy Thursday (Songs of Experience) by William Blake

She rose to His Requirement—dropt by Emily Dickinson

‘She rose to His Requirement – dropt’ by Emily Dickinson speaks to the lack of freedom and respect women had in Dickinson’s time. It emphasizes the confining nature of marriage and society’s expectations for a married woman.

She rose to His Requirement—dropt by Emily Dickinson

Dream Variations by Langston Hughes

‘Dream Variations’ by Langston Hughes details two slightly different dreams a Black speaker has as he is confronted with the “white day.”

Dream Variations by Langston Hughes

As I Grew Older by Langston Hughes

‘As I Grew Older’ by Langston Hughes is about breaking through the “wall” that racism constructs. The speaker, a Black man from the African American community, spends the poem discussing the light of forgotten dreams he’s newly determined to attain.

As I Grew Older by Langston Hughes

Exile by Julia Alvarez

‘Exile’ by Julia Alvarez is a narrative depiction of the poet’s childhood memories of leaving the Dominican Republic for the United States.

Exile by Julia Alvarez

To a Dark Girl by Gwendolyn Bennett

‘To a Dark Girl’ by Gwendolyn Bennett is a moving and inspiring poem that seeks to uplift Black girls and women and remind them of their beauty and strength. 

To a Dark Girl by Gwendolyn Bennett

An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo

‘An American Sunrise’ by Joy Harjo is a powerful poem about Native American culture written by the current Poet Laureate of the United States. The poem explores the struggles of the poet’s community as well as the successes and celebrations. 

An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo

Live Your Life by Chief Tecumseh

‘Live Your Life’ by Chief Tecumseh is an easy-to-read and powerful poem. It was written with the intention of sharing the poet’s beliefs about how to live life and embrace death without fear.

Live Your Life by Chief Tecumseh

Advice to Women by Eunice de Souza

‘Advice to Women’ by Eunice de Souza is a clever poem that suggests women should own a cat in order to understand relationships. 

Advice to Women by Eunice de Souza

To Ireland in the Coming Times by William Butler Yeats

‘To Ireland in the Coming Times’ by William Butler Yeats is dedicated to the poet’s impact on Ireland’s political, social, and cultural landscape. It contains the poet’s beliefs about the nature of his verse.

To Ireland in the Coming Times by William Butler Yeats

Freedom by Rabindranath Tagore

‘Freedom’ by Rabindranath Tagore is a powerful and effective poem about freedom. The speaker spends the seventeen lines of the poem describing the kind of freedom he hopes his country will find.

Freedom by Rabindranath Tagore

Anniversary by Louise Glück

‘Anniversary’ by Louise Glück contains the words of a cold male speaker to his female partner. These lines, taking place on their anniversary, convey a troubling relationship dynamic.

Anniversary by Louise Glück

The Vagabond by Robert Louis Stevenson

‘The Vagabond’ by Robert Louis Stevenson is a poem about one speaker’s desire to live a life close to nature and far from the rules of contemporary society. 

The Vagabond by Robert Louis Stevenson

Dream Boogie by Langston Hughes

‘Dream Boogie’ by Langston Hughes is a poem about jazz, creativity, and the oppression of Black Americans. It was written during the Harlem Renaissance. 

Dream Boogie by Langston Hughes

Reapers by Jean Toomer

‘Reapers’ by Jean Toomer is a thoughtful poem about oppression. It is depicted through a very poetic and memorable metaphor depicting field workers and a mower.

Reapers by Jean Toomer

November Cotton Flower by Jean Toomer

‘November Cotton Flower’ by Jean Toomer is a powerful extended metaphor for the lives of Black men, women, and children in the southern United States. It alludes to slavery and the hope that the Civil Rights Movement presented. 

November Cotton Flower by Jean Toomer

Subway Wind by Claude McKay

‘Subway Wind’ by Claude McKay is a beautiful and tragic poem. In it, the speaker describes a trapped city wind longing for the freedom of the seaside. 

Subway Wind by Claude McKay

The Garden by H.D.

‘The Garden’ by H.D. is a thoughtful poem about oppression. The speaker uses natural imagery in order to depict oppression during her lifetime. 

The Garden by H.D.

One Girl by Sappho

‘One Girl’ by Sappho is a beautiful and moving poem. In the two short stanzas, readers can explore imagery Sappho relates to marriage and the loss of freedom for a young woman. 

One Girl by Sappho

Daystar by Rita Dove

‘Daystar’ by Rita Dove is a powerful and moving poem. It describes a mother’s life and the only moment of peace she has throughout her entire day.

Daystar by Rita Dove

Show It At the Beach by Shel Silverstein

‘Show It At the Beach’ by Shel Silverstein addresses taboos in contemporary society. Specifically, the poem considers when nudity is appropriate and when it isn’t (on the beach). 

Show It At the Beach by Shel Silverstein

Harriet Tubman by Eloise Greenfield

‘Harriet Tubman’ by Eloise Greenfield is a moving and simple piece of poetry about Tubman’s life. The poet explores her bravery and determination in the face of impossible odds.

Harriet Tubman by Eloise Greenfield

Two Women by Marcus Wilcox

‘Two Women’ by Marcus Wilcox is a thoughtful and complex poem about identity. The speaker spends the text discussing the lives of two different women.

Two Women by Marcus Wilcox

Not My Business by Niyi Osundare

‘Not My Business’ by Niyi Osundare is a powerful, satirical poem that explores the consequences of staying silent in the face of oppression.

Not My Business by Niyi Osundare

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