January 26, 2017 General Studies

The poem “Incident,” by Countee Cullen, is one that could be described as a piece of Lyric Poetry. This is because it is a short poem that focuses in on the emotion of the poem, not the speaker or the event as much. Cullen shows how the happy feelings at the beginning of the poem change drastically to the hateful feelings at the end of the poem. After reading this poem, I found it very enjoyable, and containing a well-known theme.

The poem begins with, “Once riding in old Baltimore, / Heart-filled, / head-filled with glee/” It begins to describe someone who is riding into Baltimore for a trip of some sort, happy about his/or her arrival into town. Not long after that incident he/or she sees a boy starring straight at them as they are coming into town. “Now I was eight/and very small, / and he was no whit bigger/,” this section of the poem shows that the person riding into Baltimore is a child and realizes that the child starring back at him is young as well and feels relaxed knowing that they are alike. The tone changes at this point though the next lines in the poem read, “And so I smiled, / but he poked out His tongue, / and called me, “Nigger”. /” This is the change in tone, from excited to be in Baltimore, to being almost slapped in the face by another child from that town. The next line, “I saw the whole of Baltimore/ From May until December, / tells the audience the time period of which he stayed in Baltimore with the incident in the back of his mind. Cullen ends this poem with,” Of all the things that happened there/ That’s all that I remember/. His experience with the young boy starring at him will always be with him, no matter how hard he tries to forget it. Being that the boy/or girl was so young to have experience this, it will give them a new outlook on life and how some people can be ignorant. Dramatic monologue is present in this poem as well, but the characters in which this ONE person is speaking to, is everyone who happens to read the poem.

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