Taylor Gorda:
Countee Cullen was a very high acclaimed writer during the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920’s and 1930’s (Cullen 828). His goal was for all men of civilization to live together in harmony, no matter their race (Cullen 828). The poem "Any Human to Another" is one of Cullen’s works that portrays his beliefs while exemplifying aspects of modernism such as the rejection of society (Characteristics of Modernism). His exceptional education affected his writing and impact on his readers (Cullen 828). Cullen’s work compare to each other because most of them are for the equality of the African American race (Cullen 828) "Any Human to Another" both compares and differs to other works from the modernism literary period.

There are several aspects of modernism that are apparent in Cullen’s "Any Human to Another". One that is best known is the rejection to society that Cullen shows in his description of civilization as “diverse yet single, Forever and forever” (Cullen 830). Directly, Cullen refers to the grief, “Your grief and mine”, however one can infer that he sees society as a whole, but each man is different (Cullen 830). Displaying his feelings of how modern society has evolved, he is going against the crowds of people, perhaps white men whom would beg to differ. This alone puts him in the modernism category. Also, Cullen speaks of how “Joy may be shy, unique, Friendly to a few” (Cullen 830). This is significant to modernism because the feeling of hopelessness is one that was common during this time period, partially because of the changes going on in the world such as World War I and The Harlem Renaissance.

Although the world was not a picture perfect place during his lifetime, Cullen used this to his advantage when it came to his writing. Growing up, Cullen lived first with his grandmother, and then with Reverend Frederick Cullen who provided the young boy with a proper education (Cullen 828). Countee Cullen started writing at a young age, and won awards in school for his poems (Cullen 828). Although Cullen refused to write as a “Negro poet”, he used his poems as a form of expression of those emotions (Cullen 828). He was not ashamed of whom he was, and he wanted others to feel the same way. Cullen’s background gave him desire to write and to educate the readers of the modernism era.

Cullen’s desire to write led him to write several different types of poems in his lifetime. From reading "Any Human to Another" and another of Cullen’s poems, "Incident", one can see how important racial equality was to Cullen. In "Incident", Cullen shares an experience of being “harassed” by an assumed white man in Baltimore (Countee Cullen). At the end of the poem, Cullen states that he saw all of Baltimore, but this one man was all he remembered (Countee Cullen). This poem is similar to "Any Human to Another" because he kept with the theme of equality among all men in civilization, and how that has yet to be reached. However, not all of Cullen’s poems are on the same topic. Another of his poems is "The Wise". This poem focuses more on how man in general has a hard life and it may be easier to be a dead man (The Wise). This also ties into modernism, going against the traditional value of embracing life.

The poems of Countee Cullen are different yet similar to the other works of the American Literature Project. "Somewhere I Have Travelled, Gladly Beyond" by E.E. Cummings has a very different tone than "Any Human to Another". Cummings used an unusual and unique writing style specific to modernism, while Cullen stuck to a style that was easier for the reader to understand. In "Somewhere I Have Travelled, Gladly Beyond", Cummings used colons and parentheses in odd places such as “the power of your intense fragility: whose texture compels me…” (Cummings 706). Compare this style to that of a sentence from Cullen’s poem: “My sorrow must be laid on your head like a crown.” (Cullen 830). The themes of these writers were also different, yet they both showed aspects of modernism in their writing.

In conclusion, "Any Human to Another" by Countee Cullen is a poem that has had a significant impact on its readers. Working for equality in the human race, Cullen exemplified modernism and individuality in this poem. His college education at Harvard attributed to his success and notoriety as an African American poet (Cullen 828). Several of Cullen’s poems are alike, while other poems from the same literary period differ. The opinions and perceptions on racial equality have evolved over the years thanks to writers like Countee Cullen.


"Characteristics of Modernism." SOCRATES. Web. 26 Apr. 2010. http://socrates.troy.edu/~lworthington/eng2206/mod.htm.
Cullen, Countee. "Any Human to Another." American Literature. Comp. Jeffrey D. Wilhelm, PhD. Columbus: Glencoe, 2009. 828-30. Print.
"Countee Cullen." W.E.B. DuBois Learning Center. Web. 27 Apr. 2010. <http://www.duboislc.org/ShadesOfBlack/CounteeCullen.html
Cullen, Countee. "The Wise." Poems Inspired by Countee Cullen. Web. 27 Apr. 2010.
Cummings, E.E. "Somewhere I Have Travelled, Gladly Beyong." American Literature. Comp. Jeffrey D. Wilhelm, PhD. Columbus: Glencoe, 2009. 704-06. Print.