Prayer to the Masks Essay

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In the following brief essay on Senghor's A Dance of Masks, Jonathan Peters examines the artistic, spiritual and political implications held by the traditional piece of African art, the mask.

In "Prière aux Masques" Senghor, as poet of Negritude, shows his concern with the white world. The title suggests that the poem is a prayer to the gods and spirits who watch over his race. It is more than just a prayer, however, for it contains a basic statement of Senghor's poetic credo.

An obvious distinction of "Prière aux Masques" is that unlike "Femme noire" and "Masque nègre" not one but several masks are involved and their summons from the four cardinal points stresses the importance of the occasion:

Black mask, red mask, you black-and-white masks
I greet you in silence!
Masks of the four points from which the
Spirit breathes...


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This section contains 1,270 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Prayer to the Masks Study Guide
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