Emmett Till & the beauty of Marilyn Nelson’s words

A Wreath for Emmett Till is so well put together it’s amazing. I was so astonished instantly by reading the “How I came to write this poem” on the first page of the book. A crown of sonnets by interlinking them with the last night and first line of the next is creative and impactful as a reader. The beauty of the words (however most sad) made this book memorable. I think it should be a book that all English classes study due to the poetry style, the elegance of the language, and the creative factor. Marilyn Nelson did this subject justice by putting it so artfully. The brutal beating of Emmett Till is heartbreaking and the word choice by Nelson makes the feeling become alive on the page. I instantly felt compassion for Till and the horrible situation and the compassion expressed by others through her words. All of her artful words are powerful but I was struck when I read these lines “My country, ‘tis of both thy nightmare history and thy grand dream, I sing. Thy fruited plain, thy undergrowth of mandrake, which flowers white as moonbeams.” I think this speaks of how racial differences impact their views of the same place, but she puts it so well and with emotion. Another line that is so wonderful is “I cling to the faith that innocence lives on, that a blind soul can see again. That miracles do exist. In my house, there is still something called grace, which  melts ice shards of hate and makes hearts whole.” I think this one is my favorite. So needless to say, I enjoyed this book, not for the terrible content that it was about a young black boy being lynched to death, but how much emotion, compelling language, and essence was put into these poems. 

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2 thoughts on “Emmett Till & the beauty of Marilyn Nelson’s words

  1. I also loved the book. Though the story is terrible, it is also part of the beauty of the sonnets in that they can provoke so much emotion. I like poetry for this reason, that when when it is good it can bring out whatever emotion in the reader that the author wants you to feel The images are made that much more powerful because it was such a gruesome crime, in this case.

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