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Study Questions

Song for a Dark Girl Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.
  1. Why do you think the young man is being hanged? Do you think he is guilty of a crime?
  2. What do you think the speaker's ideas about race are both before and after she speaks this poem? Do they change? Why, or why not? And if they do, how so?
  3. How does this poem affect your ideas of race and racism?
  4. What is the effect of the parentheses and spacing in this poem? What about the meter and rhymes?
  5. If this were a song, what would it sound like?
  6. In the last line, is she saying her lover (or "love") has become a shadow? Or love in general?
  7. What's up with the refrain? Why use a line from such a famous song in American history? How does it affect the way you read the poem?
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