Hi there auliq! Welcome to YWS! Lim here with a short review.
General Impressions and Interpretation
The first few lines are vivid and immersed me into the scene of this figure standing in a desert. That’s how I interpreted the “sun and sand” imagery, at least. I thought the poem ended on a hopeful note. In terms of rhythm and rhyme, the following lines stood out to me:
But this man is not just a symbol,
Of the struggle and the pain,
He's a person with a story,
And a heart that beats the same.
I also really like the phrase “not just a symbol”!
One theme I noticed and thought was interesting was that of the collective and the individual. The poem seems to recognize both, celebrating the individual black man also acknowledging the history of his people. I think the poem could also be read as a call to acknowledge the humanity and fullness of individuals, with phrases like “a person with a story”, and with the lines that describe the man’s multifaceted roles: “a son, a brother, a father”.
I thought the structure of the poem was very cohesive. The rhyme scheme was basically consistent and regular throughout, and I thought it sounded natural when read aloud. I thought the regular rhyming was fitting for this poem as well, as odes tend to be written with more regular, traditional poetic structures and I thought this poem read like an ode.
I really like how you’ve organised the ideas in groups of four lines. Even though there are no stanza breaks, the punctuation still divides them into groups of four in my mind (since there is only a period/ full stop at the end on every fourth line). I like how the first four lines focus on establishing a scene, and the next continues the scene and begins to introduce the themes. I thought that was a smooth transition. The last four lines are focused and cohesive on the call to celebrate as well, which is a good way to end the poem.
I also noticed there was this repeated structure using “and” throughout the poem: “hot and bright” “purpose and power” “the struggle and the pain” “a passion and a fire”. I liked the rhythm of these phrases and also how doubling up on descriptors helps emphasise the message.
Something I noticed was that in the second half of the poem, the word choices became more abstract rather than concrete. While in the first half, there are more concrete images like “sun”, “sand”, “walks” and “stands”, there are more abstract conceptual words like “love”, “mind”, “stereotypes” in the latter half. Because of this, I found myself more able to picture the scene in the first half of the poem compared to the second half. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if you’d like to make the poem as a whole more vivid, it might be good to think of ways to add concreteness to the second half. Maybe returning to the images of the “sun and sand” somehow?
I thought the image of the black man striding with purpose in the beginning was powerful. It doesn’t take many lines to describe and it does the job of conveying the praising tone of the poem and draws the reader’s attention to the poem’s central figure.
I thought this was a solid ode with a balanced voice and structure. It manages to praise the subject without feeling too over the top, as some odes can feel, and also containing quite a lot of nuance even in such a short poem. My main suggestion for revision, as I said, would be to consider playing with the descriptions, word choices and imagery in the second half of the poem, to see if making it more concrete helps you convey what you want to convey.