If We Must Die
If We Must Die
by Claude McKay

Claude McKay’s Calling Card

What is the poet’s signature style?

Revolutionary Sonnet

McKay's sonnets are very similar to Countee Cullen's ballads. Both poets took traditional, English poetic forms and injected them with a mix of universal themes and very specific racial tensions. It's an experiment to test whether European-American culture can coexist with African-American culture. McKay wrote this poem during a very violent and tense time in American history, and his revolutionary spirit shines through. The poet doesn't want to be too obvious about whom he is angry with or who he thinks is against him, but this vague language makes it all the more universal.

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