Furthermore, black skin and natural beauty is not celebrated in Western societies because their version of a beautiful woman is white or light skin with blue eyes and not voluptuous; but Senghor’s glorification of the black woman is highly esteemed because he takes pride in his race and his country. As a result, the poem noted that, “Oil that no breath ruffles, calm oil on the athlete’s flanks, on the flanks of the Prince Mali, Gazelle limbed in Paradise, pearls are stars on the night of your skin.” The woman becomes almost a goddess, with her skin as smooth as the oiled skin of an athlete or a prince. She is like an elegant gazelle adorned with heavenly ornaments. Oil and pearls on the woman’s beautiful black, shiny skin is compared to the night stars because the iridescence of natural pearls reflecting off the woman’s oiled skin is elegant and graceful as a gazelle. The “black woman” is associated with eternity when Senghor uses images like the wind, the sun, moon and the night stars. Natural pearls are also a rare and very expensive commodity of Africa. Therefore, the woman’s natural unspoiled beauty is praised by the poet.
In the final stanza, the author states, “Naked woman, black woman, I sing your beauty that passes, the form that I fix in the Eternal.” Senghor concludes philosophically by reaffirming the black Woman’s transient beauty permanently in the poem.
This poem is a masterpiece because in 1945 when the poem was written and published African people were enslaved and still under colonial rule. The philosophy of the Negritude movement was that African people all over the world shared a commonality of racial brutality, oppression and discrimination and the movement was focused on manifesting the value of the African people. Hence, the author conveyed the pride he felt in the African culture.
Senghor wrote the poem in a period of decolonization, and praises the culture of Africa by expressing beauty in the color of the African skin, because during the British rule in Africa, the African skin was the main cause for brutality and discrimination. The poem is abstract because it is just not directed to a particular person but rather to a category. In line 3 the author states, “I grew in your shadow.” This indicates it is addressed to a maternal figure and a lover.

You Might Also Like