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Go Down Moses

             Oppressed so hard they could not stand,.
             "Thus spoke the Lord," bold Moses said;.
             If not I"ll smite your first born dead,.
             Let my people go. .
             -Anonymous, 1800.
             A well known African-American spiritual amongst all races, generations and religions throughout the United States, "Go Down, Moses" was originally created as a way for slaves in the 19th century to release their thoughts and emotions. This folk song was drawn from the biblical story of Moses and the Jewish slaves in Egypt in order to hide the real message behind the poem from the slave-owners. Because this poem is widely known, containing themes and symbols easy to follow, I would expect a published analysis of the piece to introduce new and more in-depth topics, rather than to restate the obvious. Unfortunately, Erica Smith's analysis of "Go Down, Moses" does just that (restate the obvious), and when she does briefly introduce new points, they are weak and not useful to her overall argument. For instance, although she does insert a sporadic sentence or two in each paragraph that mentions the slaves, Smith usually tells the reader about the story of Moses or the history of the slaves, rather than relating one to the other. A prime example occurs toward the end of her essay:.
             "For the duration of the song Moses is, by turns, reassured, praised, and shouted on ward. The singers cajole him to "come along, Moses, you"ll not get lost" and later implore him to hold a lighted candle so as not to lose his way in the wilderness. Knowing the triumph to come at the end of the song, the singers can adopt and attitude of wisdom, encouraging him to be brave." (Smith 55).
             As a recap, I couldn't ask for more. But, as a student of literature, I hope that I could determine that the slaves would "adopt and attitude of wisdom, encouraging him to be brave" when they were fleeing Egypt. Furthermore, I thought this attitude was apparent in the slaves in America as well.

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