The Great Depression is regarded as the most catastrophic financial collapse in the history of the United States: beginning in 1929 and stretching for a decade. The stock market crashed, banks failed and unemployment skyrocketed during the Depression years. The feelings of hopelessness and fear that surrounded the era have been captured by poets who created famous works about the Depression.
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Randolph G. Goodman's "Lament", published in 1929, details the beginnings of the Great Depression. The poem talks of the shock of the stock market crash, then expresses the feelings of overwhelming hopelessness and despair which followed. The poem speaks of fear and unhappiness, two emotions which were strongly felt during the Great Depression. One stanza of the poem reads "Fair the breezes---
Harsh to hear;
With the discord of Fear."
Let America Be America Again
"Let America Be America Again" by Langston Hughes, originally published in 1938, seems to mourn the loss of the "American Dream" during the Great Depression years. In the poem, Hughes asks "Let America be America again. Let it be the dream it used to be. Let it be the pioneer on the plain. Seeking a home where he himself is free. (America never was America to me.)."
Brother, Can You Spare a Dime
"Brother, Can You Spare a Dime", by E. Y. "Yip" Harburg is the most famous poem of the Depression, though it was originally written as a song. The poem contains the haunting title line which summed up the sense of need that was prevalent during the Great Depression. One line of the poem reads "Why should I be standing in line, just waiting for bread?" The words describe bread lines, where people waited for hours in order to receive a daily ration of food.
Pantoum Of The Great Depression
"Pantoum Of The Great Depression", a poem written by Donald Justice, was actually penned after the Depression was over. Pantoum is a specific types of poetry, written in four-line stanzas with repeating lines. Justice's poem is about growing up during the Depression, told from the point of view of one who has survived to see better times. The first stanza of the poem reveals feelings of hope and strength: "Our lives avoided tragedy
Simply by going on and on,
Without end and with little apparent meaning.
Oh, there were storms and small catastrophes."
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