Go Down, Moses Essay

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Mahony is an English instructor at Wayne County Community College inDetroit, Michigan. In this essay, Mahony discusses West African influences and multiple levels of meaning in African-American spirituals.

Folk song is the voice of a people, of a community. It tells of the sorrows, triumphs, and yearnings—not of the individual but of the collective. Folk songs are attributed not to a single composer or poet, but to a nation, a tribe or a race. This helps to explain the power and the beauty, as well as the miracle, of the African-American spiritual. In the introduction to The Books of American Negro Spirituals, the poet James Weldon Johnson marvels at the creation of this powerful music: "These people came from various localities inAfrica. They did not speak the same language. Here they were, cut off from the moorings of their native culture, scattered without regard to their old...

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This section contains 1,690 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Go Down, Moses Study Guide
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Poetry for Students
Go Down, Moses from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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