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Poem Analysis: Go Down, Moses

Addressing a crucial part of the biblical narrative, Go Down, Moses bears a crucial cultural meaning apart from its doubtless artistic merit. However, since the song has been popular for multiple decades, its novelty may have gradually faded, which, in turn, has led to people taking a range of unique literary devices used in it for granted. Applying the Historical Criticism and the Reader-Response frameworks to the text will demonstrate that, apart from referencing the challenges faced by the Jewish people, the poem contains crucial references to the colonist past of the United States.

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The use of Historical Criticism has helped to locate the specific parallels between the era of slavery that Jewish people experienced thousands of years ago and a much more recent atrocity of the slavery era in the United States. The specified connections are subtle, yet they are present. For instance, there is an evident juxtaposition of the narrative set in the past: “1 When Israel was in Egypt’s land” and the call for justice that follows it immediately and is established in the present: “Let my people go” (“When Israel was in Egypt’s Land”). The specified perspective was an important revelation that did not occur to me before and that was instrumental in my understanding of the song’s meaning.

Similarly, the Reader-Response framework was central to the analysis of the poem, its literary value, and its emotional impact. Specifically, the plight for justice and freedom that rings in every word of the poem resonates with the reader immediately, mostly due to the present concept of social justice as the fight for the rights and representation of marginalized groups and communities. Therefore, the two perspectives in question have prompted a more profound examination of the poem and its hidden meanings.

Work Cited

When Israel was in Egypt’s Land. Hymnary,org, n.d.

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