If We Must Die Poem by Claude McKay

If We Must Die

Rating: 4.1

If we must die, let it not be like hogs
Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot,
While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs,
Making their mock at our accursèd lot.
If we must die, O let us nobly die,
So that our precious blood may not be shed
In vain; then even the monsters we defy
Shall be constrained to honor us though dead!
O kinsmen! we must meet the common foe!
Though far outnumbered let us show us brave,
And for their thousand blows deal one death-blow!
What though before us lies the open grave?
Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack,
Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!

Nadine Graybeal 31 March 2014

Nadine Graybeal AML-2600-50456 03/31/2014 Claude McKay was one of the famous poems in the Harlem Renaissance time. In Claude McKay’s poem “If We Must Die” he uses imagery and describes the poem to deliver feeling by comparing the problems to symbols like animals or objects that his readers can relate to. He was referring to the bloodshed and massacre of 1919. The speaker seems to portray the enemy in many different ways. He represents the opponent as vicious dogs getting ready to hunt on their prey. He then makes it seem as if the dogs are more than hungry that they end up being some type of vicious cold-hearted beast who torture their pray rather than consume them. Then he speaks of the enemy as being a monster because dogs are too human to be portrayed as what is being represented. McKay’s poem represents more of a stand your ground and fight back action. He wanted the people not to be afraid of standing up for themselves. With all of the fight the people will end up dying, but he is saying if we must die, at least we can choose how we will die. We can die with dignity if we choose too! McKay wants them to give it their all so they can die proud. Word Count: 213

33 30 Reply
Godfrey Morris 17 February 2015

Such noble words from an awesome poet.

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Alessia Maganuco 05 April 2012

Alessia Maganuco. Claude McKay, the first major poet of the Harlem Renaissance. The main thing Claude McKay did to show imagery and description in the poem “If We Must Die” to convey feeling is to shape the trends that would later define that literary moment. He was able to indulge and arouse many black readers. Many African American were fascinated to his poetry by his frequently explosive condemnations of bigotry and oppression. He helped disclose some of the unifying principles underlying the major conflicting themes of the writers of them Harlem Renaissance. In addition, the Negro Renaissance gave voice to the new spirit awakening in the 1920’s; but the new militancy indicated that the long journey down the harsh years of history had ascended to read the good life ahead. My personal favorite line from the poem “If We Must Die” is: “like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack, pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back.” That line symbolizes strength and fortitude from Claude McKay.

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Amanda Cruz 01 April 2012

Claude McKay’s poem “If We Must Die” shows us that no one really wants to die, but if we must, we want to die fighting. Claude McKay’s imagery in this poem shows an awfully dreadful death of one dying like a “hog” said to be “hunted and penned” somewhere that it cannot get out. This is exactly how Claude McKay does not want to die. He wants to die gloriously and in some way that he will be honored for years to come. In all reality, he is simply portraying how everyone does not want to die, but instead how they want to be remembered after death and how they want to be fighting for their life until the very end not cornered somewhere where they are forced to surrender. He shows how we all want to be able to say that we were “brave” and “like men we’ll face the murderous” and fight back for as long as we can.

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Dennis Ryan 04 October 2022

Again, Claude McKay, Jamaican born, one, just one of many writers from the Harlem Renaissance era..

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Dennis Ryan 28 September 2022

Claude McKay is one of the best writers of sonnets in the West, and he conveys important civil rights messages all along the way.

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Dennis Ryan 28 September 2022

Claude McKay is one of the best writers of sonnets in the Western literary tradition,

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David Wood 04 February 2022

What is a noble death in a pandemic, or as a soldier because politicians failed in statesmanship, or in an accident.We must all make peace with death at some stage and accept it.

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Mai 05 April 2022

This poem was a response to racial violence. Don't broaden it's application if it's not fitting.

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Chinedu Dike 04 February 2022

Great lines of poetry. A masterful creation exquisitely crafted with artistic brilliance.

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