Sorrows by Lucille Clifton

Lucille Clifton is one of the most celebrated African-American poets of the twentieth century. Her poem “Sorrows” is one of her most famous works, and is an exploration of the pain and sorrow of the African-American experience. In the poem, Clifton reveals the struggles of African-Americans in a time of extreme racism, poverty, and oppression. She uses imagery and metaphor to bring out the depth of her feelings and experiences.

The poem begins with a stanza that speaks of the sadness of the African-American people: “Sorrows in the night, sorrows in the day,/Sorrows like the sea, sorrows like the bay.” Clifton uses the imagery of the sea and bay to portray the vastness of the sorrow and pain of the African-American experience. She also highlights the fact that this sorrow is not only present during the day, but also in the night, when the darkness of racism and oppression is more pronounced.

Clifton then goes on to describe the feelings of helplessness and despair that come with this sorrow: “Sorrows in the street, sorrows in the heart,/Sorrows of a people that cannot depart.” Here, she speaks of the inability of the African-American people to escape their oppression. The sorrow is too deep and ingrained in their lives to ever leave. This verse also speaks to the power of the oppressor, who has kept the African-American people in a state of sorrow for so long.

The poem ends with a call to action, as Clifton urges her readers to “take up our sorrows,/And turn them into joy.” This is a powerful message, as it speaks to the strength and resilience of the African-American people. Despite the sorrow and oppression that they have endured, they are still able to find joy and hope in their lives. Clifton’s poem is a testament to this strength and resilience.

Lucille Clifton’s poem “Sorrows” is a powerful exploration of the African-American experience. Through her use of imagery and metaphor, Clifton reveals the depths of sorrow and pain that her people have endured. At the same time, she also reveals the strength and resilience of the African-American people, who are able to find joy and hope even in such difficult times. “Sorrows” is a powerful reminder of the struggles of the African-American people, and an inspiring call to action.